Around 700 organizations, including the Public Health Association of Australia, business groups, health professionals, scientists, farming and community groups opposed to genetically modified (GM) foods have signed a letter, petitioning the Federal Government to ban GM crops.
The letter calls on the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to review the safety of GM food and to maintain his election promise in which he ensured the public that safety of GM crops would be guaranteed prior to allowing their cultivation.
Adelaide business man Peter Fenwick, who coordinated the campaign, said the letter ‘offers to facilitate a meeting with 20 distinguished international experts, mostly scientists, who can comprehensively advise ministers on the risks of genetic engineering, GM crops and GM foods’.
‘There is significant scientific evidence for health risks from GM foods and the matter requires Mr Rudd’s urgent attention if he is to fulfill his undertaking to the Australian people,’ Mr Fenwick said.
The letter also argues that the current regulatory regime for GM products, which was developed by the previous Liberal government, is biased and that the Labor government must amend it as soon as possible.
Two Australian States have recently permitted the planting of GM crops. Last Friday, farmers in the state of New South Wales were given the go-ahead to plant GM canola, following Victoria which made GM crops legal after ending a four-year moratorium last month.
Greenpeace is asking the New South Wales Government to provide an explanation of what kind of controls will be used to stop GM crops from crossing state borders.
A Greenpeace spokesperson, Michelle Shuter, commented on the fact that while three quarters of farmers around Australia do not want GM crops, it will be very difficult to stop non-GM properties from becoming contaminated.
‘It doesn’t stop at the border, so it does need Federal Government policy,’ she said.