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GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: Gene Ethics accuses Australian government of rigging GM survey results




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  ETHICS GROUP ACCUSES GOVT AGENCY OF RIGGING GM SURVEY RESULTS

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/2007/s1985683.htm

DATE:   23.07.2007

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ETHICS GROUP ACCUSES GOVT AGENCY OF RIGGING GM SURVEY RESULTS

A Federal Government agency has been accused of manipulating the results of a survey showing more people are ready to accept genetically modified food. The Biotechnology Australia survey found 73 per cent of consumers accept GM food compared to 46 per cent in 2005. The Gene Ethics Network says the survey questions were loaded to promote GM crops as environmentally friendly. But Biotechnology Australia’s Craig Cormack says the survey holds up to scrutiny and reflects a true change in attitudes. ”People no longer see it as something novel and scarey and dangerous and unknown and the other one is that people see GM crops as potentially solving bigger problems in their minds which are drought and climate change and pandemics and all those sorts of things, so biotechnology crops, GM crops are no longer percieved to be such a problem more now a solution,” he said.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  GOVERNMENT PUSH POLLS ON GM CROPS AND FOODS

SOURCE: Gene Ethics, Australia

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8127

DATE:   23.07.2007

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GOVERNMENT PUSH POLLS ON GM CROPS AND FOODS

”The Australian government push-polled Australians on genetically manipulated (GM) crops and foods to dishonestly inflate support for GM in its latest survey,” says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

”It was unethical to falsely imply in the questionnaire that GM has solutions to key environmental problems when they do not exist now and are ten years from commercial reality, if ever,” he says.

”Most citizens support genuine solutions to air and water pollution, climate change and salinity on farms, but GM food crops are not the answer to these problems and probably never will be,” he says.

”Gene Ethics saw the draft questionnaire but Biotechnology Australia rejected our proposal that people be asked their opinions on the costs, risks and hazards of GM foods and crops, as well as their claimed benefits,” he said,

”Biotech Australia again showed itself to be a government-funded pro-GM lobbyist that promotes the interests of foreign GM giants ahead of Australian farmers and shoppers,” he says.

”Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane’s comments were also designed to mislead the public by cherry-picking the survey results and ignoring their inconvenient truths,” Mr Phelps says.

”For instance, the Minister ignored Figure 25 on ’willingness to eat GM foods’ that shows an average rating of 8.2 out of 10 for organic foods and 6.1 for non-organic,” he says.

”Food containing preservatives rated 5.2, with GM foods lower, depending on the kind of genetic manipulation involved,” he says.

”Food from GM crops was 5.1 and meat from cloned animals was last, at 3.6,” he says.

”Shifts in public acceptance of GM foods were the result of revised wording from the last survey two years ago,” he says.

”It’s undemocratic and unfair to mould public opinion using biased surveys to justify GM policies that are nothing short of mad,” Mr Phelps concludes.

 

More comment: Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500 or 0408 195 099

Minister’s statement at:?http://minister.industry.gov.au/index.cfm?event=search.showForm

Reports at:?http://www.biotechnology.gov.au/index.cfm?event=object.showContent&objectID=DCE82A65-EBEE-A004-F1F274EB7E4B2577



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  GREEN CONCERNS RAISE HOPE FOR GM CROPS

SOURCE: North Queensland Register, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://nqr.farmonline.com.au/news_daily.asp?ag_id=43963

DATE:   23.07.2007

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GREEN CONCERNS RAISE HOPE FOR GM CROPS

Public support for genetically modified food crops rose dramatically to 73pc in 2007, up from 46pc in 2005, due to perceptions about the role they can play in countering drought and pollution.

But the figures have been called into question, with anti-GM groups accusing the Federal Government of push polling.

A Biotechnology Australia report released on Friday found a major change in public attitudes towards biotechnology in all areas.

”When asked if GM crops should be grown in their state, 50pc of respondents from all states said ’yes’, with a further 30pc approving as long as they were strongly regulated,” Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, said.

”This marks a significant change in public attitudes and coincides with an increased confidence in science across society.

”The perceived benefits from biotechnology are increasing while the perceived risks are declining.”

The study looked at public concerns about biotechnology applications and sought to understand what benefits people wanted from the technology.

The highest values placed on biotechnology applications were:

- cleaning up pollution (97pc support);

- developing environmentally-friendly vehicle fuels (97pc);

- recycling water more effectively (96pc);

- helping address climate change (91pc); and

- combating salinity (90pc).

But Gene Ethics director, Bob Phelps, claims the figures are rubbery and a result of push polling by the Government.

”The Australian government push-polled Australians on genetically manipulated crops and foods to dishonestly inflate support for GM in its latest survey,” Mr Phelps said.

”It was unethical to falsely imply in the questionnaire that GM has solutions to key environmental problems when they do not exist now and are 10 years from commercial reality, if ever.”

Mr Phelps said Biotechnology Australia rejected his group’s proposal that people also be asked their opinions on the costs, risks and hazards of GM foods and crops, as well as their claimed benefits.

”Biotech Australia again showed itself to be a government-funded pro-GM lobbyist that promotes the interests of foreign GM giants ahead of Australian farmers and shoppers,” he said.

* The full study can be found at the Biotechnology Australia website.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  GM FOODS GAIN SUPPORT

SOURCE: The Courier-Mail, Australia

AUTHOR: Peter Morley

URL:    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22117785-953,00.html

DATE:   23.07.2007

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GM FOODS GAIN SUPPORT

POLLUTION and climate change have raised public support for genetically modified food crops, according to Biotechnology Australia. A survey of more than 1100 people across the country found that acceptance rose dramatically from 46 to 73 per cent over the past two years. Asked whether GM crops should be grown in Queensland, 50 per cent of respondents said yes, while a further 30 per cent approved, provided there were strong regulations. Queensland is the only state not to have a moratorium on GM crops: 97 per cent said its application could help develop environmentally friendly vehicle fuels, while 91 per cent thought it could help address the issues of climate change and water salinity. Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the findings indicated a major change in public attitude towards biotechnology.



                                  PART 5

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TITLE:  NATIONAL FARM BODY HEAD SHOWS SUPPORT FOR GM CROPS

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/2007/s1985682.htm

DATE:   23.07.2007

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NATIONAL FARM BODY HEAD SHOWS SUPPORT FOR GM CROPS

The head of the National Farmers’ Federation says growing genetically modified crops in northern Australia will not be ruled out. David Crombie is in Darwin as part of the Northern Taskforce, which has two years to investigate future agricultural development in the north. He says while there is a lot of nervousness about GM crops, they can have benefits. ”If you really look at genetic modification, if is the way of the future in a lot of areas, not everything,” he said. ”But I mean not many people would argue against hepatitis B vaccine, not many people would argue against perhaps a genetic modification that would enable a crop to be grown with perhaps less chemical and fertiliser. ”I’m not for one moment saying let’s go headlong into GM, what I’m saying is let’s consider all the options.”


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