On June 2, the West Australian reported that WA Premier Alan Carpenter had called for a nationwide suspension of approvals for foods containing genetically modified (GM) crops until more health research was carried out. Carpenter said the national food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand should not approve any more food for human consumption until independent scientific trials were conducted to better determine the safety of GM foods.
The article quoted Carpenter as saying: "There are still unresolved issues and questions about the effect of genetically modified foods on human beings." He added that GM ingredients could be found in common foods including corn chips, breakfast cereals, taco shells, margarine, biscuits, soy products and oils.
On June 6 WA Conservation Council representative Dr Maggie Lilith presented the Carpenter government with a letter asking it to extend the current ban on GM crops, which will expire in early 2009 at the latest, for a further 10 years.
Last month Lilith attended an international conference on GM agriculture in Germany where she obtained signatures on the letter from representatives of 75 countries.
Lilith told Green Left Weekly that many of WA's export markets rejected GM crops. "These markets will be lost to Australia with the adoption of GM agriculture", she said. "In 10 years time we can base a decision regarding GM crops on independent scientific research into the impacts ... on people and the environment."
Say No to GMO activist Janet Grogan told GLW: "It's fantastic the premier has raised the labelling issue. This is extremely important, but we must keep pushing for the moratorium on growing GMO crops to be extended — and that includes cotton!
"The support [Lilith] was able to get from international figures at the conference she attended in Bonn last month is a great win for the campaign."