|WEEKLY WATCH number 152 (25/11/2005)|
from Claire Robinson, WEEKLY WATCH editor
US agronomist Dr Charles Benbrook is advising Australian farmers and policy makers not to follow North America down the biotech cul-de-sac.
"Across the southeastern US, where soybean and cotton farmers have relied almost exclusively on GM technology for several years, the system is on the brink of collapse, the volume of herbicides used is setting new records and farmers' profit margins are shrinking," Benbrook warns. (BENBROOK TOUR / GM FARMING).
Claire [email protected]
BENBROOK TOUR / GM FARMING
+ GM CROPS A FLOP IN THE USA, BENBROOK TELLS OZ
But according to the leading independent US agronomist, Dr Charles Benbrook, "US farmers have lost billions of dollars in export sales" as a result of GMOs. Dr Benbrook is touring Australia (Nov 28 - Dec 9, 2005) to warn government ministers and farmers about the problems with the first decade of GM crops in the US.
"Across the southeastern US, where soybean and cotton farmers have relied almost exclusively on GM technology for several years, the system is on the brink of collapse, the volume of herbicides used is setting new records and farmers' profit margins are shrinking," Benbrook points out.
Based on his analysis of the US experience, Benbrook predicts that widespread planting of today's GM crops "will erode the sovereignty of Australian agriculture and allow multinational companies to gain a larger piece of the profit pie at the expense of farmers."
Details of the Australian tour are at
Loss of market access is certainly one to consider. According to a Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) economic study of GM crops, "the US share of the EU's maize imports has fallen to virtually zero (from around 2/3 in the mid-1990s), as has Canada's share of EU canola imports (from 54% in the mid-1990s). GM-adopting countries have lost market share to GM-free suppliers".
+ T J HIGGINS - DISINGENUOUS OR JUST DISHONEST?
Higgins' claims both that the study shows that the regulatory system is working and that "there isn't a single piece of evidence that [GM food's] any less safe than conventional food."
As to the former claim, Julie Newman of the Network of Concerned Farmers points out that, "Health testing is only done by the company that is wanting approval for release but luckily, CSIRO did these voluntary feeding tests. Why aren't these feeding tests compulsory?" Dr Brian John calls the latter claim simply "a lie, typical of the lies pushed out by those who promote the interests of the GM industry".
PAULA KRUGER [ABC reporter]: The CSIRO has tried to spin a positive out of the failed project by saying it shows that measures designed to protect the public from unsafe GM products are effective.
But that is not the view of Dr Judy Carmen the Director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research.
JUDY CARMEN: First of all, I think the people who did this study should be congratulated, because this is the kind of study that should be done on all GM foods.
... One of the problems with this study is that, as I said, it hasn't actually been done with other GM foods and needs to be done.
So while Dr T J Higgins is saying that this shows that the regulatory process is working, unfortunately it doesn't, because this pea has never made it to the regulatory process.
EXCERPT: [Foster] adds that slight differences in protein synthesis might also occur in other plants with other genes, meaning each new GM food should be very carefully evaluated for potential health effects. "If a GM plant is to go up for human consumption, there should be a detailed descriptive list of how one should go about anal