MAdGE (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering) took its opposition to genetically modified food to the streets on May 21, to coincide with a May 21-22 GM crops summit in Melbourne.
MAdGE was formed in 2007 when the Victorian ALP government announced it was reviewing the moratorium on GM food. Premier John Brumby's government lifted the moratorium on February 28.
MAdGE organiser Fran Murrell slammed the limitations of the government review: "The panel ... was only required to look at the economic aspects of lifting the ban. There was no obligation to examine the health effects of GM crops or their effect on the environment.
She added: "Data from the US Department of Agriculture shows 15 times more pesticide is sprayed on US crops since the introduction of GM crops ... Farmers have reported that pigs fed GM corn had fertility problems and gave birth to bags of water. We need this dangerous technology out of our food until full tests are done."
Vicki Wilson from the Concerned Consumers Group told the protesters, "This technology is in its infancy ... they are playing with our food and making us the guinea pigs. Eventually, like the tobacco industry, the harm that GM could do to us will be revealed, but at what cost?" MAdGE points out that Food Standards Australia New Zealand does no independent testing of GM foods, relying instead on studies done by the biotech companies themselves.
Several Gippsland farmers were among the 100 protesters. One told Green Left Weekly that she was disgusted with the Victorian Farmers Federation for believing the Monsanto propaganda about GM crops.
The protest demanded: that governments stop approving GM crops and food until multi-generational, independent trials are done; that GM foods currently in the food chain be removed until they are proven safe; and that GM canola planted in Australia this year be uprooted before it can flower, spread pollen and seed, and pollute the environment.