VIC GM REVIEW PANEL: NO INDEPENDENCE OR EXPERTISE
Gene Ethics - News Media Release
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Premier Bracks today announced a panel to review the ban on GM canola in Victoria [Australia].
"The panel announced today to review Victoria's ban on commercial genetically manipulated (GM) canola is neither independent nor expert," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.
"The panellists are keen supporters of GM crops and foods who have promoted it for many years," he says.
"And none are expert in trade or marketing issues, the main focus of the review," he says.
"The panel has no expert capacity or experience to consider the impact of commercial GM canola release on producers and exporters," he says.
"Their expertise and experience is in science, agriculture and rural and regional development issues - all outside the trade and marketing focus of the review," he says
"The Bracks government has set up a panel to recommend fast tracking GM crops into our environment and onto our plates," he says.
"They set the scene to end the GM canola ban over the objections of most Victorian farmers and shoppers, the vast majority of whom want GM-free foods on the farm, in the shops and on the dinner table," he says.
"An end to the Victorian ban would also upstage the bans in four other states and the ACT as GM canola contamination will be no respecter of state boundaries. GM-free Australia and the benefits that can bring would be finished," he says.
"We call for a panel that fairly reflects the breadth of public views on GM and has real expertise in the topic, to redress the pro-GM bias of the group announced today," he says.
"Panel chairperson Gus Nossal is a retired medical researcher who publicly advocates GM food and crops, and has done so for many years," Mr Phelps says.
"Panel member Merna Curnow is from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) which spends at least $100,000 a year to promote acceptance of GM," he says.
"Merna was also an officer of the Victorian Farmers Federation when it actively campaigned against the GM bans," he says.
"As the ban is almost five years old, we also call for a review of new evidence on health and environment impacts of GM crops and foods since the licences were issued.," he says
"Victoria's strong record on clean green GM-free foods will be in tatters if the GM canola ban ends," he says.
"A new ban order should be signed to extend the ban till 2013, at least," Mr Phelps concludes.
More comment: Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500 or 0408 195 099