More than 40 people gathered at the Katoomba YHA on February 2 to demand that the Labor state governments in NSW and Victoria overturn their decisions to end the ban on the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) canola. From March this year, NSW farmers can apply to grow GM canola.
A highlight of the seminar was a video of Dr Judy Carman, an internationally recognised Australian epidemiologist, talking about the risks posed by GM crops and foods. The meeting was organised by the Katoomba-based Blue Mountains Food Co-op, the directors of which have called for GM food crops to remain banned in NSW and Victoria. The Food Co-op recently became a signatory to the Australia-wide Food Industry Statement, which seeks the continuation of moratoria on the commercial growing of GM canola.
"The vast majority of consumers in NSW do not want GM food, and our co-op members certainly don't!", Wayne Levi, a co-op director and member of the Blue Mountains Socialist Alliance, told the meeting.
"GM canola is the foot in the door. GM soy and GM corn may be just around the corner. Our logo includes the phrase 'Where good food doesn't cost the earth'. We really believe in that and feel very concerned that there has not been adequate testing of the effects of GM food on our health and on the wider environment."
More than 200 businesses and organisations around Australia have signed the industry statement so far, with more signing each week. They are not only seeking continued bans on the growing of GM food crops, they also want full and clear labelling of all food made using GM technology, including oils and products from animals fed with GM feed.
"Many people don't realise it, but there are imported and local foods available in Australia now that are made from GM crops", said Craig Linn, a member of the Food Co-op's "Working Group for a GM-Free Future". "The federal government needs to remove the multitude of exemptions in current GM food labelling laws. If food comes from GM crops, or has involved GM technology or GM feed in its production, then people have a right to know — after all they're eating it. In Europe consumers are told far more."