Government Rejects GM Report
Due to Vested Interests
Stock & Land (Australia) 21apr2008
The Network of Concerned Farmers is accusing the Australian government of protecting its own financial interests in genetically modified crops by refusing to sign off on an international research report that rejects GM crops and recommends policy changes. The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology (IAASTD) released its final report on 15 April 2008, following its adoption at an intergovernmental plenary meeting from 7-12 April in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The $US12 million report called for a fundamental shift to a more sustainable international agricultural policy and claimed GM crops introduced unmanaged risks while failing to prove a benefit.
While the report was endorsed by more than 55 countries, the governments of USA, UK, Canada and Australia failed to endorse the report due to the report's failure to promote GM crops.
The Federal Government and the Victorian and NSW State governments have supported the commercial release of GM crops.
These governments have also invested heavily in GM technology and promoted public institute research alliances with GM companies.
"It appears our Australian government is willing to ignore the truth and recommended risk management in order to protect their own GM investments," National Spokesperson of the Network of Concerned Farmers, Julie Newman said.
"It is now blatantly obvious that genuine economic, health and environmental concerns are being desperately and misleadingly, countered by government organisations in order to ignore fair risk management.
"This report is irrefutable evidence to prove that GM crops provide more risk than benefit but government GM decisions are based on how much money governments can make from the technology.
"This behaviour should not be accepted by the Australian public."
The IAASTD was launched as an intergovernmental process, with a multi-stakeholder Bureau, under the co-sponsorship of the FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank and WHO.
In a comprehensive and rigorous reporting process involving more than 400 authors, the report drawing on the evidence and assessments of thousands of experts worldwide.
The report's lack of specific support for GM crops was based on a four year peer-reviewed analysis of the evidence presented by both sides of the debate.
The report concluded that GM crops are unlikely to play a substantial role in addressing farmers needs and recommended longer-term assessments of the environmental and health risks and regulatory framework to deal with patents.
Another key concern highlighted in relation to GM crops is the dominance of the biotechnology industry in agricultural research and development at the expense of other agricultural sciences.
Furthermore, the report notes that all farmers face new liabilities from GM crops, particularly as a result of contamination and unintended patent infringement of GM crops in non-GM crops.
"The concerns expressed in this report is exactly what ordinary people like the Network of Concerned Farmers have been explaining to governments for a decade but we have been ignored and branded as activists by governments with a vested interest," Mrs Newman said.
The NCF have been lobbying for adequate health and environmental assessment and fair risk management to ensure the GM company is liable for any losses their GM product causes.