NSW Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm has launched a blistering attack at animal rights activists and opponents of genetically modified (GM) crops.
Senator Leyonhjelm described People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as “the enemy of the meat and livestock industries” on Monday night.
In another speech on Wednesday night, he repeated calls for Greenpeace to be stripped of its charitable status in Australia for destroying GM crop research in Canberra in mid-2011.
Senator Leyonhjelm decried opponents of GM crops while saying “every generation spawns a new pack of Luddites”.
“Luddites claimed that metal ploughs would contaminate the soil, that train passengers would not survive travelling at high speed through tunnels, that gramophones would make musicians redundant, that microwave ovens would make food carcinogenic and that vaccines were responsible for autism,” he said.
“Unfortunately, while Luddites were once just ill-informed vandals destroying workplaces in their own communities, now their ideas are sometimes lethal on a global scale.
“In the 20-odd years in which GM crops have been grown, there have been no documented negative human health effects.
“There are many documented benefits, including better nutrition, more efficient production and reduced use of pesticides,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“But unfortunately this has not stopped South Australia and Tasmania, our two worst performing economies, from banning GM crops.”
Senator Leyonhjelm accused Greenpeace of being Luddites for “openly denying” the benefits of golden rice for at least 15 years “with complete disregard for the science and in full knowledge of the impact of vitamin A deficiency”.
“The consequences have been catastrophic,” he said.
“While golden rice is now finally being grown overseas, some eight million children died while Greenpeace was successfully campaigning against it.
“Greenpeace has also played a part in preventing famine-hit people in Africa from accepting food aid that was genetically modified.
“These modern-day Luddites are willing to let other people pay the ultimate price for their attitudes.
“They should be stripped of their charitable status: they should reap what they sow.”
Greenpeace was contacted by Fairfax Media but declined to comment on the Senator's speech.
The Senator this week also renewed criticism of “I Killed The Prom Queen” guitarist Jona Weinhofen for using a fake sheep in PETA’s recent attack on Australia's wool industry.
The “foamie” sheep used in the campaign was cut and bloodied during the “shearing process”.
“Predictably, there was outrage: from woolgrowers who were adamant that practices like that did not happen in their sheds and from consumers who were horrified at the cruelty,” Senator Leyonhjelm said. “(but) PETA is as fake as the foam prop they used in their anti-wool campaign.”
Seneator Leyonhjelm said PETA and the other animal rights organisations followed a predictable “activist pattern”, starting with exposure of an “isolated outrage” followed by “public outrage with moves to regulate where banning proves impossible”.
He said wool, beef, live exports, forestry or fisheries industries were then accused of harming the planet, animal cruelty, destroying children’s futures and being bad corporate citizens.
“Industry representatives, unfamiliar with animal rights activism, often passively acquiesce to new regulatory arrangements,” he said.
“They are unaware that the regulations are proposed not with a view to improving the welfare of animals, but to kill the industry in the long term.”
Senator Leyonhjelm declared PETA to be the enemy of the meat and livestock industries, sports involving animals and any industry that affects animals in the wild.
“PETA must not only be defeated; it should be destroyed by any legal means available,” he said. “PETA is not invincible; it can be challenged and beaten.”
PETA was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.