1.Oceania at Risk from GMOs
2.Qatar to label GMO products
EXTRACTS: 'There has been no long term testing on the effects of the genetically engineered foods. So no one can claim they are safe.' (item 2)
'Already we have heard of the States of Victoria and New South Wales in Australia, not renewing the ban on growing genetically-modified crops. This has direct implications on Pacific Islanders as many of our countries import food products from Australia.' (item 1)
1.Oceania at Risk from Biotechnology Exploitation and Genetically-Modified Food
Pacific Magazine, December 6 2007 http://www.pacificmagazine.net/news/2007/12/06/oceania-at-risk-from-biotechnology-exploitation-and-genetically-modified-food
The biodiversity of Oceania is at high risk of exploitation by Biotechnology companies and Pacific Islanders maybe on the horizon of a major food security risk from genetically modified food, says Rev. James Bhagwan.
Rev. Bhagwan who is representing the Pacific Conference of Churches at a Global Consultation on Genetics and New Biotechnologies and the Ministry of the Church in Johannesburg, South Africa believes that while economic development is important for the nations of Pacific; governments and churches need to examine the possible negative social, economic and health implications of the introduction of farming of genetically-modified crops for export or local consumption.
He said that looking at the devastation of communities, local economies and cultures by the actions of Biotechnology companies involved in Genetically-Modified crop farming such as Monsanto, in Mexico, Paraguay and Latin America, but also the impact of large-scale GM farming on small farmers in North America, the Pacific needs to heed the 'writing on the wall' and be proactive in this area.
'The danger of overlooking the health and social implications and focusing on the immediate economic benefits for a few, when looking to introduce the planting of GM crops, is real,' said Bhagwan. 'Already we have heard of the States of Victoria and New South Wales in Australia, not renewing the ban on growing genetically-modified crops. This has direct implications on Pacific Islanders as many of our countries import food products from Australia.'
Genetically Modified Foods, Plants, Animals, Additives, Body Products, Fish, Crops and Trees have had their genes manipulated, changed, and put into other species that normally they would not mate with, blend with, consume, or grow in. Incredible combinations have been produced, and have been found to have mutations, diseases, abnormalities and trigger other diseases that otherwise may have remained dormant.
14 South Pacific countries - American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu - have recommended a moratorium on the import of GMOs pending the implementation of appropriate national risk assessment and risk management procedures. However, no firm actions have been taken although, Bhagwan noted, some local consumer councils have called for the labeling of products containing Genetically-Modified material.
'As the sugar industry in Fiji continues to struggle, the possibility that the industry may turn to GM sugarcane for increased sugar quantity must be accepted and addressed. With the continuing exploitation of the biodiversity of Oceania and the repeated attempts by biotechnology companies to use Pacific Islanders as research subjects, as in the Cook Islands, and acquire rights to their DNA, as in Tonga, there is a need for Churches to provide ethical and theological advice to Governments in the region.'
Bhagwan called for Churches to be included in advisory committees within Environment and Agricultural departments and ministries dealing with biodiversity and the implementation of new technology.
2.Qatar to label GMO products
Ghanem Mohammed Al Abdullah.
The Peninsula, 4 December 2007
Doha - Qatar will soon introduce labeling system for the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). This will help customers protect their right to choose a GMO or natural food product from the market.
Qatar's decision is followed by Decree No.11/2007 issued by the Heir Apparent HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is also the Chairperson of Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR), to constitute a National Committee for Biosafety to uphold the spirit of Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, to which Qatar is a party. The National Committee, chaired by Khaled Ghanim Al Ali, Secretary-General of SCENR, will draw up a national policy regarding the labeling of GMOs.
The nominees of National Health Authority, Qatar General Organisation for Standards and Metrology, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture, Customs and Ports General Authority and Central Municipal Council are among other members of the committee. The panel will meet at least once in three months. A scientific committee, comprising members from Qatar University, Qatar Foundation and NHA will assist and advise the National Committee on Biosafety.
The Biosafety Protocol is an agreement designed to regulate the international trade, handling and use of any GMO that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.
'There has been no long term testing on the effects of the genetically engineered foods. So no one can claim they are safe. The long term implications on human health of eating GE food products are also not known and have not been investigated. However, a lot of arguments are going on between the experts on the issue. And as a precaution, and under the pressure from internationally reputed green groups, several nations have decided to offer an option to the customers to select their choice by introducing a labeling system', said Ghanem Mohammed Al Abdullah, Director, Wildlife Conservation, SCENR.
Studies carried out by international agencies have proved that GM food products are available in Qatari markets. Now, through labeling, customers can distinguish GMO products with non-GMO products, he added. Qatar is the second country in the GCC to join Cartagena Protocol. It became the party in June 2007. Oman became the first country in the region to join the protocol when they signed the pact in 2003. Saudi Arabia became the member in November 2007.