NOTE: The list of committee members has to be read to be believed!
EXTRACTS: Committee members can face prison sentences of up to three months for divulging committee discussions. Having such a gag order on a public committee is also unprecedented.
On two occasions Mr Cohen unsuccessfully asked minister McDonald to provide the names of the committee and declarations of pecuniary interest. It is clear why the minister did not want to reveal them - ...the majority of committee members have vested interests in GE crops.
GE canola approval process corrupt
Greenpeace, April 4
Australia - Greenpeace is calling on the Independent Commission Against Corruption to conduct an inquiry into the process behind the approval of growing genetically engineered (GE) canola in NSW.
The call comes after we found that the committee set up to investigate whether GE canola should be grown in NSW was stacked with pro-GE advocates.
According to two of the committee members, dissenting members' concerns were down-played, marginalised and not reflected in the minutes of the meeting. Furthermore, it was not publicly revealed that the committee was split on the recommendation to approve planting GE canola.
Environmental scientist Jo Immig and canola grower Juliet McFarlane, who both sat on the committee, said the go-ahead to plant GE canola should not have been given. They argue that the segregation of GE and non-GE canola cannot be guaranteed and non-GE farmers have no legal protection if their crops are contaminated by GE.
Appallingly, Primary Industries Minister Ian McDonald's decision to introduce GE canola into the state is effectively beyond reproach, since he introduced legislation to ensure that his decision to approve the crop could not be challenged in court. This is unprecedented for legislation of this nature and Greens MP Ian Cohen has accused the minister of 'treating the parliament as his own fiefdom.'
The NSW government established the committee to 'assess whether industry is prepared and capable of segregating genetically modified (GM) and non-GM food crops'. However, the committee is cloaked in secrecy - with the identity of committee members not being publicly revealed. Committee members can face prison sentences of up to three months for divulging committee discussions. Having such a gag order on a public committee is also unprecedented.
The government was required by law to record the pecuniary (vested) interests of the committee in a book that could be viewed by the public, however, this is stored in Tamworth.
On two occasions Mr Cohen unsuccessfully asked minister McDonald to provide the names of the committee and declarations of pecuniary interest. It is clear why the minister did not want to reveal them - the book shows that the majority of committee members have vested interests in GE crops. This is tantamount to letting the fox look after the chickens.
Immig said that the representatives on the committee were quite clearly very pro-GE people. 'It's hard to imagine that the committee would come up with any other outcome other than to eventually approve, or suggest to the minister that he approve the genetically modified canola,' she said.
Committee members include:
*Prof Tim Reeves the panel chair, former executive director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico (CIMMYT) which invests in GE crops and receives funding from the biotechnology companies Syngenta, BASF and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Prof. Reeves is also on the board of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). The GRDC not only invests in GE research itself but also lists the biotechnology companies Bayer, Syngenta and Dow among its research partners and sponsors.
*Dr Zoltan Lukacs also works for the GRDC *Phillip Clamp - works for and has shares in GrainCorp, which will benefit from the introduction of GE crops through its NuGrain biotechnology venture, whose services include seed sales, grain testing and royalty collection.
*Hugh Roberts - a prominent advocate of GE crops, Mr Roberts is part of the NSW Farmers Association Biotechnology Taskforce and also owns shares in GrainCorp. He is a seed producer and therefore stands to directly benefit from the introduction of GE crops - since farmers will be forced to buy new seed every year.
*Dr T J Higgins, a GE scientist from the CSIRO, which has strategic partnerships with biotechnology companies Bayer and Monsanto. Dr Higgins invented GE peas, which caused allergic reactions in mice and had to be withdrawn. Had these peas gone through the normal Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) screening process they would have been approved for human consumption. Yet Dr Higgins still has the audacity to claim that our regulatory system for GE food is adequate and that there is no evidence that GE food is harmful.
*Geoffry Annison - represents the Australian Food and Grocery Council of which Monsanto is a member.
*Nicholas Woods - employee of CropLife Australia which represents the biotechnology industry.
The entire approval process for GE canola is scandalous. Please contact Morris Iemma and ask him to intervene to protect our health, the environment and the economy from GE contamination.
Ask Iemma to:
*Ensure that no GE canola is grown commercially in NSW.
*Introduce liability legislation so that biotechnology companies are held accountable for the contamination caused by their products.
*Ensure the labelling of all GE foods including oils and products from animals fed GE food.
Contact details for the Premier:
The Hon Morris Iemma
Premier of New South Wales
Phone: (02) 9228 5239
Fax (02) 9228 3934