Safe GM crops a fairytale

November 25, 2009

On November 18, 200 people rallied outside the Western Australian parliament to protest against the introduction of genetically modified crops. The state government will decide next year whether to permanently lift the ban on GM crops.

Protesters dressed as fairytale characters to symbolise that safe GM foods are a myth.

Anti-GM campaigner Doctor Maggie Lilith presented statistics from the recent review of the moratorium on GM. She said 89% of submissions called for the moratorium to be kept and even strengthened.

The 35 submissions opposing the moratorium were mainly from the big biotech companies, such as Monsanto, AgriFood Awareness and Bayer, and some large agricultural associations.

Other speakers at the rally included canola farmers Janette Liddelow and Jan Fowler. They said that at first they supported GM, but have found it to be the opposite of everything they were promised. They said the promised higher yields, drought resistance and the claim that non-GM can be segregated from GM crops were all "fairytales".

Liddelow addressed state agriculture minister Terry Redman, who was in the crowd, asking: "What are the answers to all these questions Mr Redman? We have been asking you all year who accepts liability for loss of our lucrative GM-free markets to Europe, Japan and Australia."

Redman declined to answer, but later gave a short speech. He was heckled as he said GM labelling was an issue dear to his heart and he urged protesters to make their views known to him.

Shadow agriculture minister Mick Murray condemned political interference by Redman when he publicly denigrated Dr Judy Carmen's investigation into the effects of GM feed on animals.

Long-term campaigner Janet Grogan said consumer resistance to GM was building and food companies were responding in droves.

She urged the crowd to contact food makers to thank them for guaranteeing GM-free products, or to tell them consumers would boycott their products until they could guarantee no GM ingredients.

Greens senator Lynn MacLaren told the crowd: "You are a powerful bunch of people. Keep up the pressure, as we will in parliament."

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