Howard Government GM canola push doomed (12/8/2007)

Howard Government GM canola push doomed
Gene Ethics Media Release - August 13 2007

"The Howard government's latest report on genetically manipulated (GM) crops is yet another doomed bid for re-election," says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

"A new federal government should adopt a more evidence-based, cautious and balanced approach to GM crops and foods," he says.

"We expect the federal ALP and Greens to counsel state Labor Governments to extend their bans on GM canola until 2013 at least," he says.

"Howard government policy is grossly biased by contracts for the research and development of GM organisms between bodies such as CSIRO and the GM giants, Bayer and Monsanto," he says.

"Agriculture Minister McGauran sides with Bayer (the world's biggest agrichemical company) and Monsanto (the world's biggest seed company) to shove genetically manipulated (GM) crops and foods down our throats and into our environment against our will," he says.

"Claims that drought, salt and virus tolerant crops will soon be available are false and misleading as all the research is only at the 'good idea' stage of development and cannot be available within ten years, if ever," he says.

"GM herbicide tolerant canola is the only GM crop on offer and, if fairly assessed on its own merits, Australia should leave it alone," he says.

"For instance, McGauran's 'confidential' report leaked on Sunday fails to mention that over 80% of world canola production is GM-free and that only two of the twenty producing countries - USA and Canada - have adopted herbicide tolerant GM varieties," he says.

"The acreage of GM canola grown world-wide stalled in 1999, so Australia would be adopting canola varieties that are rejected in most parts of the world. It's an absolute dud," he says.

"An EU review of GM crops published last December found that Bayer and Monsanto got 94% of the revenues from GM canola in North America, the farmers got 6%, and shoppers got nothing by way of reduced prices," Mr Phelps says.

"The main plus for North American family farmers from GM crops is extra time to moonlight in an off-farm job, according to a review of the first ten years of GM," he says.

"The GM canola goes into ethanol and animal feed but our GM-free canola oil is in strong demand for human consumption everywhere and we have earned premiums of up to $120 per tonne for it in Europe and Asia since January 2005," he says.

"No-one anywhere is shopping for GM foods so why would we grow them?" he asks.

"Only fools would sacrifice our competitive advantage for GM-free in world markets by siding with our competitors - USA and Canada - to remove the GM-free choice of our many customers," he says.

"Herbicide tolerant GM canola would mean more chemical spraying, more often, and at higher doses, leaving more residues in our food and our environment. No-one wants that," he says.

"The latest survey showed strongest support for chemical and GM-free organic foods, with conventional second and GM a distant third in the race for public acceptance." he concludes.

More comment: Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500 or 0408 195 099 or 03 9889 1717 (H)

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