Packed panel says give GMOs a chance (1/3/2008)

NOTE: If you want a sense of how insanely biased Sir Gus Nossal and his state review are, note his claim here that 'we found no evidence from the international experience (that GM) did any harm whatsoever to the export program or diminished the wealth of the nations concerned.'

Really? No harm whatsoever?

The GM rice contamination scandal triggered the single greatest crisis in the history of the U.S. rice industry, and is estimated to have cost the grains industry over a billion dollars.

Perhaps Sir Gus would like to explain how this does not constitute harm, or diminution of wealth, to all the farmers who've had to file multi-million dollar class action lawsuits to try and gain compensation for the financial damage they've suffered.

And how exactly does Sir Gus explain the extraordinary lengths that the U.S. and other GM-exporting nations have gone to in pursuing their complaint to the WTO of lost trade?

In making its case, the U.S. stated that its corn growers alone had lost hundreds of millions of dollars per year in exports.

And how exactly does Sir Gus explain GM-canola growing Canada's involvement in the WTO dispute?

When there are Canadian farmers on record as saying that the loss of markets due to GM has had a huge financial impact, it's hard to believe that anyone but an industry stooge could get up and tell people there've been no problems whatsoever over GM market acceptance.

EXTRACT: [The] four speakers assembled for the media conference by the Australian Science Media Centre are enthusiastic proponents of GM, raising criticisms from a small group of protesters kept outside the forum by heavy security that dissenting scientific voices had been locked out.

One eminent and outspoken scientific critic of GM crops, former CSIRO agronomist Dr Maarten Stapper, contacted by The Age, dismissed the assurances within the forum that the technology had been rigorously assessed and proven safe, stating, 'There has been no testing of current GM crops for human consumption. Current regulation only requires animal feeding studies for a minimum of 30 days. GM companies do the research to answer questions from regulators. There are no independent studies.'

He also challenged the belief that GM crops could improve yield and profit for farmers, or that it could improve the output from poor or degraded soils.

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Give genetically modified canola a chance, experts urge as ban goes
Jo Chandler The Age, 29 Feb 2008
http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/give-genetically-modified-canola-a-chance-experts-urge-as-ban-goes/2008/02/29/1204226991482.html

SCIENTIFIC advocates have joined ranks to persuade farmers and consumers that genetically modified canola is safe, saleable and central to agricultural prosperity.

Their assurances came as Victoria's moratorium on growing GM canola expired yesterday, clearing the way for the controversial pesticide-resistant seeds to be sown this season.

Professor Sir Gustav Nossal, who chaired the state review that advocated the end of the moratorium, said canola was just the beginning.

'The strains coming down the pike are so much more important We're talking about frost-resistant plants, we're talking about drought-resistant plants, we're talking about high-protein wheat,' he said.

After months analysing 250 submissions split roughly 50-50 on the pros and cons of GM canola, Sir Gustav told a media conference that his review panel was satisfied that 10 years of research into the canola crop ensured its safety.

On the health issue, another speaker, Dr T. J. Higgins, deputy chief of CSIRO Plant Industry, told the news conference that while there were risks attached to any new technology, 'Australia has a very good regulatory system. It's robust, it's transparent, and it's credible.'

He said concerns about antibiotic markers, allergens and toxins, and long-term effects had been thoroughly investigated.

Four speakers assembled for the media conference by the Australian Science Media Centre are enthusiastic proponents of GM, raising criticisms from a small group of protesters kept outside the forum by heavy security that dissenting scientific voices had been locked out.

One eminent and outspoken scientific critic of GM crops, former CSIRO agronomist Dr Maarten Stapper, contacted by The Age, dismissed the assurances within the forum that the technology had been rigorously assessed and proven safe.

'There has been no testing of current GM crops for human consumption,' Dr Stapper said. 'Current regulation only requires animal feeding studies for a minimum of 30 days. GM companies do the research to answer questions from regulators. There are no independent studies.'

He also challenged the belief that GM crops could improve yield and profit for farmers, or that it could improve the output from poor or degraded soils.

But Sir Gustav said his review had been persuaded that there were strong agronomic benefits in the new crop variety, in particular in its capacity to use biodegradable herbicides rather than toxic alternatives in use, and its capacity to respond to drought and climate change.

His panel had also investigated the question of whether GM canola would damage Australia's clean, green image and wreck a price premium from markets looking for non-GM canola - one of the key concerns raised by anti-GM groups pleading with the State Government this week not to lift the moratorium.

'We looked very hard but we found no evidence that such a price premium existed,' Sir Gustav said, 'and we found no evidence from the international experience (that GM) did any harm whatsoever to the export program or diminished the wealth of the nations concerned.'


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