Senator blasts PETA, anti-GM activists

21 Aug, 2015 09:28 AM
Senator David Leyonhjelm.
Every generation spawns a new pack of Luddites
Senator David Leyonhjelm.

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.

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Sick of self serving politicians
21/08/2015 11:08:03 AM

Who gives this fool oxygen? Whilst animal cruelty may be excusable in his mind it isnt to the rest of decent Australians. And as it seems he fails to understand what animal cruelty actually is, best he doesnt talk about what he fails to comprehend.
keith of the bush
21/08/2015 11:11:50 AM

Those who do not agree with the fantasy that farmers should be allowed to destroy whatever they want in their pursuit of money are in your book misguided. How arrogant and ignorant you are.
Paul Evans
21/08/2015 3:51:09 PM

Hi Colin, Just a clarification, Golden Rice is still held up in over burdensome and pointless regulation and is still not available to those susceptible to vitamin A deficiency. Release still could still be a few years away. Note that a vaccination for Malaria that only have a 30% chance of working was recently released to try and save the lives of vulnerable people, yet Golden Rice which is 100% effective, yet has a small yield issue is held back while 2 million children a year die. Paul Evans Allow Golden Rice Now
21/08/2015 5:47:28 PM

Makes sense we can't have these fringe groups holding society to ransom anymore. Science provides solutions. To deny innovation is negligent and should incur criminal penalties.
21/08/2015 5:49:03 PM

Well spoken David,you are one of few politicians who are brave enough to say it like it is and not pussyfoot around with uninformed idiots like PETA.They have no idea what takes place on a farm.
21/08/2015 7:05:39 PM

The comments above demonstrate the thriving of ignorance and false propaganda in the fact vacuum that is not being filled by education that should be provided by the peak agribusiness representative organisations.
Edward H Wymer.
21/08/2015 10:06:20 PM

Keith and Sick are obviously supporters of PETA who were so stupid as to make that fraudulent video of alleged sheep abuse, several months ago. All filmed on film sets, which was so easy to prove a massive lie. Why would anything else they said be true.
Robert Wager
21/08/2015 11:24:45 PM

There are many myths about GE crops and derived food on the internet. This can help people learn what the real science says about this technology http://www.geneticliteracyproject .org/2014/10/28/not-all-science-i s-created-equal-the-genetically-e ngineered-crops-story/ cheers
Robert Wager
21/08/2015 11:28:50 PM

The European Academies Science Advisory Council 2013 report- Planting the Future should be read (free on-line) by everyone interested in GE crops and derived foods. Here are a few excerpts "There is abundant and accumulating evidence from extensive worldwide experience for benefit, and lack of evidence for environmental or human health risk associated with GM crop technology...There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy.
P Hogan
22/08/2015 5:21:21 AM

Nice to see a politician who believes in science!
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