The importance of this can't be overstated. This may be the first time independent health testing on a GM product has been funded in this way since the British government (via the Scottish Office) funded Dr Pusztai's research.
The opposition to independent testing from the leadership of the GM-supporting WAFarmers group is extremely revealing.
Why is there such desperation that these products not be tested by anyone but the biotech industry or its supporters?
WA to fund independent health testing on GM foods
State GM study splits farmers
The West Australian, 28 November 2005
The State Government has announced it will fund laboratory testing on rats to determine the safety of genetically modified food crops, sparking a rift between farming groups. Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said most GM research in Australia was done by or funded by companies with a vested interest in promoting GM food, prompting community concern about its safety. Mr Chance said the study by Adelaide's Institute of Health and Environmental Research would give the Government independent data. But the announcement has divided farming groups.
Anti-GM lobby group Network of Concerned Farmers welcomed the decision, but WAFarmers fears the announcement will stall the formation of a high-level advisory group to examine a path for commercialised genetically modified crops in WA. Concerned Farmers spokeswoman Julie Newman said an independent study was vital considering GM crops could not be recalled if they later proved dangerous."We cannot rely on voluntary testing done by companies focused on promoting GM crops," Mrs Newman said."They only give the public information that supports their case and are unlikely to release any information that would damage their ultimate goal of having GM crops in Australia."
WAFarmers president Trevor DeLandgrafft suspects the study will duplicate testing already done. "At the end of the day, all testing has to get past the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, which is a Federal office for determining the safety of foods," Mr De Landgrafft said."It may be useful, in that it could allay fears in the minds of people who don't trust existing studies but may trust an independent study."If it did this it could be useful, but it could end up just duplicating other studies and be a means of stalling the formation of the high-level advisory group."
A spokesman for Mr Chance said the Minister was committed to the high-level group and expected to announce the committee this week. The study will involve two initial trials on three GM corn varieties and two canola varieties given approval for commercial planting in Australia. It will examine rats for cancerous and pre-cancerous growths and assess the potential for GM DNA to enter the animals' body.