Former gene tech regulator Dr Joe Smith is now chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA)
Australia's revolving door allows government ex-regulators, officials and MPs to serve the industries they once vetted as public servants. Dr Joe Smith has been appointed chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA), which CropLife, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) and AusBiotech founded a decade ago to promote the agricultural biotech and chemical industries.
ABCA describes its new chair, Joe Smith, as "former national Gene Technology Regulator, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and Director of the Therapeutic Goods Administration Laboratories".
Commenting on the appointment, GeneEthics director Bob Phelps said, "The Deregulation Taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is presiding over rampant deregulation of gene technology, synthetic chemicals and drugs, with the co-operation of regulators.
"Regulators' assigned jobs of protecting public health, safety and the environment are being systematically devalued, disempowered and dismantled.
"Mr Smith is also current President of the International Society for Biosafety Research.
"GeneEthics therefore calls on Mr Smith and ABCA to use their influence to encourage the Australian Government to join the Biosafety Protocol of the Convention on Biodiversity.
"The Protocol aims to ensure the safe international transfer, handling and use of Genetically Modified Organisms, but Australia has never signed or ratified it."
The Protocol came into force in 2003 and has 173 member countries co-operating to implement its precautionary principles and provisions.
Mr Phelps notes, "ABCA's leading founder, CropLife Australia, is the local branch of the global agrochemical, agbiotech and seed industry network which promotes genetically manipulated animals, crops and micro-organisms in 92 countries.
"CropLife's corporate members represent 85% of crop protection and 95% of crop biotechnology products used by Australian farmers, according to its website.
"The interests of its corporate members make a mockery of ABCA's claim to want an 'open and transparent dialogue' with the whole community, as critics are routinely shunned.
"Regenerative farming systems are the way to sustainably 'feed the world' into the future, but these methods exclude the use of biotechnology and synthetic chemicals that ABCA promotes.
"ABCA, its new chair Joe Smith, and its corporate members are on the road to ecological ruin and must change their ways."