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Scottish caution on GM foods lost on New South Welshmen.

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Senator John Cherry Australian Democrats Agriculture Spokesperson

January 27, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/34

Scottish caution on GM foods lost on New South Welshmen A new report by the Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament slamming the risk assessment of approvals of genetically modified crops stands in stark contrast to the approach of the Australian and New South Wales Governments promoting the development of GM crops, according to the Australian Democrats.

The Scottish Report, released the same day that genetically modified corn was offloaded in Newcastle for the first time, found that current testing regimes ‘seek to prove the safety of the GMO rather than test and genuinely assess potential hazards’, and recommended more robust testing before GMOs are approved.

Democrats’ Agriculture spokesperson Senator John Cherry said the caution of the Scottish Parliament was warranted, and that the New South Wales Government was making a huge ethical mistake in promoting GM crops without proper risk assessments being conducted.

“Scottish caution on genetically modified food is desperately needed in Australia because our Governments are pushing GM crops without considering the full risks,” Senator Cherry said.

“The NSW Government’s biotechnology website actively promotes GM crops, with none of the legitimate public health, environmental or economic concerns listed on its Bioethics page. Instead, viewers are offered the choice of six pro-GM sites on its website, mostly funded by multinational companies which will benefit from GM technology.

“Nor do the NSW or Victorian Governments see any ethical problem taking advice from the Grains Gene Technology Committee, which includes six representatives of multinational seed agri-corporations, but only one representative of environmental concerns.

“The approach of the NSW Government, largely replicated by Victoria and Queensland, stands in stark contrast with the Scottish Parliamentary Health Committee which advocates a more cautious approach in the risk assessment of GM crops.

“The Committee largely accepted the view of the British Medical Association, which has called for a moratorium on the development of GM crops, arguing that ‘ we cannot at present know whether there are any serious risks to the environment or to human health involved in producing GM crops or consuming GM crops.’

“The European Parliament has also taken a very cautious approach, imposing a ban on foods containing anything other than minimal amounts of genetically modified materials.

“These real concerns, based on the most up to date research, are clearly not shared by the NSW Government which, judging by its website, is prepared to outsource bioethics of GM crops to the companies promoting them,” Senator Cherry concluded.

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