"THE HOPE OF THE INDUSTRY IS THAT OVER TIME THE MARKET IS SO FLOODED [WITH GM] THAT THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, YOU JUST SORT OF SURRENDER." - Don Westfall, vice-president, Promar International
1. GM body fails to promise clean food
2. Comment from UK campaigner Kate O'Connell
1. GM body fails to promise clean food
Tue 1 May 2001
AUSTRALIA'S organic industry has called for nationwide testing of imported organic products and a five-year moratorium on genetically engineered products after a major US organic body warned it could no longer guarantee the integrity of its products.
The Organics Federation of Australia called for the moratorium yesterday following evidence of widespread contamination of organic seeds and crops by genetically engineered organisms in the US.
Organics Federation of Australia spokesman Scott Kinnear said US producers were worried there would not be enough clean seed to allow planting of organic corn, soy and canola for the 2001 season.
As a result it was "highly likely" that US soy and corn products entering the Australian market were contaminated with GM (genetically modified) organisms.
"The OFA recommends importing companies in Australia immediately test batches of product and seed from the US containing organic soy, canola and corn," Mr Kinnear said.
"It's got to the point where I have a letter from Farm Verified Organic (independent US organic certifier) saying they can't guarantee seed purity in planting and are considering the notion of thresholds.
"The implications of that are they will be shut out of the European Community market and maybe even Australia and New Zealand."
The introduction of contamination thresholds within the organics industry was "extremely contentious because it essentially legitimised GE-pollution and flouted the international standard for zero tolerance of contamination of organic seed".
Such a move was opposed in Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.
Mr Kinnear warned the US situation delivered a sobering message to Australian producers that contamination was highly possible and not only posed environmental and health risks but also serious trade implications.
It is now believed that the risk of GE contamination not only existed from pollen drift and harvesting equipment but also through contamination of the seed itself.
"We have been jumping up and down for years about this and now our worst nightmare has come true in the US," he said.
"People buy certified organics because it isn't contaminated and the US situation will undermine people's confidence in organics."
Mr Kinnear said Australia's Gene Technology Bill, which becomes operational from June 21, provided inadequate protection for the organics industry because it had failed to consider the potential impacts on trade along with considerations of public health and safety.
"The whole reason why this is a critical issue is because GE companies always stated people should have the right to choose genetically engineered products. That is now being taken away."
2. Comment from UK campaigner Kate O'Connell re: ngin: GM pollution now pervasive: agency
with regard to the following article I ask that everyone write to their MP, to Nick Brown, to Michael Meacher to the biotech companies and to the NFU and ask how, in the light of this evidence on GM pollution, they are going to gaurantee that the same problem does not arise in this country due to the farm trials.
This is an atrocious state of affairs and threatens the future of our already crisis stricken farming industry. The farm trials must stop NOW before the same scenario hits Britain. With increasing evidence of risk from GM food and crops the world demand for GM free produce now outsrips supply. It makes good and sound sense to ensure that British produce can meet that demand. For Britain to lose that status - forever - is sheer lunacy and is nothing short of agricultural suicide.
The trials must stop - now - contact your MP today and demand that he takes steps to ensure Britains GM free status - make it very clear that there is an election coming up - if he wants your supoport he must take action. Write to the local and national press - this must get media attention. If we do not act now it will be to late - GM free status will be gone and our farming industry will be threatened with yet a new and permanent crisis. There is no cure for GM pollution. Once it is here it is here forever
Kate O'Connell Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),
"THE HOPE OF THE INDUSTRY IS THAT OVER TIME THE MARKET IS SO FLOODED (WITH GM) THAT THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, YOU JUST SORT OF SURRENDER." - Don Westfall, vice-president, Promar International
GM pollution now pervasive: agency
By CLAIRE MILLER
Monday 30 April 2001
Organic produce such as corn and canola imported from North America can no longer be guaranteed free from genetically modified (GM) organisms, according to the Organic Federation of Australia.
The federation is warning consumers that GM pollution is now so pervasive in North America that foodstuffs containing imported ingredients cannot be guaranteed GM-free without testing.
The warning follows an alert to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements from the independent United States certifier Farm Verified Organic. The certifier said GM pollution of corn, canola and possibly soybeans was now so pervasive, "we believe it is not possible for farmers in North America to source seed free from it".
"We must come to grips with reality now. If we are to certify these crops as organic, we must admit the potential of GMO pollution exists in the seed itself, not to mention the potential for field and post-harvest contamination," the authority said.
Recent media reports have highlighted the problem, including a Wall Street Journal investigation that tested 20 organic products with GM-free labels and found 16 had traces or more of GM organisms.
This was followed by a US Agriculture Department revelation that almost 80 seed companies had found traces of the GM corn variety Starlink in their corn seed.
Starlink was approved only for stock feed due to questions about its safety for humans, but was found last year in taco shells.
Scott Kinnear, speaking for the Organic Federation of Australia, said consumers should be alerted to the emerging crisis in North America, and importing companies should require US suppliers to verify GM-free test results.
He said the issue highlighted regulatory shortcomings in Australia that were meant to enforce compliance with the organic industry's zero tolerance of GM organisms. "We think it is our duty of care to inform consumers of this problem (in the US) because we believe consumers buy organic food because it is unadulterated," Mr Kinnear said.
Mr Kinnear, who is also running as the Greens' lead Senate candidate in Victoria, said the US problems underscored the need to amend the new Gene Technology Act so that Australian farmers whose crops were contaminated had the right to sue.
GM crops have not been released for general use in Australia, but the Federal Government has approved trials in most states.