Anti-GM petition attracts 30,0000 signatures

A PETITION started by a Wimmera farmer against genetically modified food has attracted more than 30,000 signatures.

The petition calls for the Federal Government to look at the adverse effects of genetically modified crops.

Duchembegarra farmer Bob Mackley started the petition on December 2.

It has grown in support each day, reaching 31,473 signatures by Thursday.

Mr Mackley said he wanted the government to review the broad spectrum of GM crops, particularly appropriate labelling of GM foods.

“GM crops are being released prematurely and various aspects of the releases are being done in a very haphazard way,” he said.

“GM crops should be totally reviewed and any releases be rescinded. 

“This is an enormous issue and there is an enormous groundswell of concern about GM on the street, yet there seems to be a great deal of resistance from the government to address the issue.”

In January 2011, floods washed GM canola from neighbouring paddocks onto Mr Mackley’s property. 

“I was not able to sell my canola from that land as GM-free any more and had to change rotations and herbicide regimes and cover extra clean-up costs,” he said.

Mr Mackley said the risks involved with GM included contamination, market closure, health effects and market trust.

“Labelling needs to be clear and definitive so end users of the food we grow trust us, because at the moment they don’t,” he said.

“As a food and fibre producer, one of the things I value highly is the trust of my end users and the GM industry is doing nothing to help maintain that trust.

“Are we being fair to people if we don’t tell them where the food comes from?”

Mr Mackley described research into GM technology as the agriculture industry putting all their eggs in one basket.

“Because of the government’s dependence on GM technology to solve the world food problems, there is an enormous amount of extremely valuable research not being done,” he said.

“The commercial model of research funding means that if something can’t be turned into a marketable product straight away, it is not worth being researched.”

He said other areas that needed more research included soil science and sustainable farming systems.

Mr Mackley said he was pleased with the support his petition had received.

“I’ve had telephone calls and communications from all around Australia and overseas,” he said.

“The level of interest is very indicative of there being a great deal of concern.”

The petition will be sent to the Australian Senate.

Mr Mackley said it was time for the Federal Government to take a close look at the adverse impacts of the commercial cultivation of GM crops.

“It is the only way to make them realise that this new technology is not a magic bullet and is putting all of us at risk,” he said.

Mr Mackley said people could view his petition at change.org.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has been granted approval from the Office of Gene Technology Regulator to trial GM wheat in Horsham as early as March 2014.

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