This from Julie Newman of Australia's Network of Concerned Farmers is taken from amongst a number of interesting comments in the online discussion of the article we recently circulated, 'Australia's new Chief Scientist: a conflict of interest?'.
Julie Newman, 15 July 2006
I am heavily involved in the agripolitical arena and boy”¦ the dirty tactics involved around GM disgusts me. I have never seen anything like it in any other issue. There is a dictatorship from the top down that overrules the bottom up policies. Industry leaders are heavily lobbied.
The policies of the farm organisations are derived from the grassroots up and almost all explain the need to provide fair risk management to prevent non-GM farmers being adversely impacted. This somehow miraculously translates into a pro-GM policy that is sprouted to all and sundry. Even when WAFarmers policy was sent to Senate, the Minister tried to overrule the motion endorsement because he claimed a letter was received saying that the policy was not really policy despite it being policy.
Grains Council of Australia send submissions in response to possible regulatory changes, and insist on absolutely no risk management. When I publicly questioned it, claiming it was against the policies of the organisations GCA represent, I was threatened to be sued.
Of course this is the same CEO who at a Grains Week meeting refused to allow me to ask a question of a misleading pro-GM speaker. Considering I was vice president of the WAFarmers Federation Grains Council, I had every right to ask a question. The response was "not you Julie, anybody but Julie Newman can ask a question." David Ginns (the CEO in question) just happened to be the head of Agribusiness Australia prior to being CEO of Grains Council and his earlier speeches sprout his desire to get GM in despite the risks. Sort of a somebodies gotta be first at the high risk ventures, why not Australia”¦ and the farmers take all the risks and agribusiness win either way.
And the extreme effort and misleading information used to sway the average farmers to want GM is appalling. Every conference is misleadingly pro-GM, the policy advisors of all major farm lobby groups are in constant contact with and receive biased information from Paula Fitzgerald of Agrifood Awareness who actually represents the GM industry via Avcare (prior to namechange). GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation) fund $100,000/yr to Paula too and that money is taken out of compulsory levies from farmers. (With the drought this year, the compulsory levies taken by GRDC could well exceed the net income of farmers.)
GRDC seem to be positioning themselves to corporatise and make money out of farmers by entering commercial arrangements with the R&D we pay for (eg. Philom Bias). They are pushing GM fiercely. There is a flare up over last weeks Farm Weekly article where I objected to pro-GM activist Bill Crabtree being funded by GRDC to take a group of farmers to Canada and America on a pro-GM tour. Imagine if I asked for that funding for an anti-GM tour?
The amount of bullying and underhanded tactics I have had to endure to expose the misleading information to farmers is absolutely appalling.