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[genet-news] POLICY & REGULATION: Charges dismissed against baby food activists



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST BABY FOOD ACTIVISTS

SOURCE:  Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Australia

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/media/releases/charges-dismissed-against-baby

DATE:    26.10.2010

SUMMARY: "Charges have been dismissed against six Greenpeace activists who pleaded guilty to trespass this morning after labelling genetically modified baby formula in Woolworths last month. The DIY labeling [...] came in the wake of shocking revelations on Channel Seven?s Sunday Night programme showing one of Australia?s most popular baby formulas ? Wyeth?s S-26 Soy ? repeatedly tested positive for genetically modified ingredients, despite not carrying any labelling. "

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CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST BABY FOOD ACTIVISTS

Contaminated formula remains unlabelled

Australia  -  Charges have been dismissed against six Greenpeace activists who pleaded guilty to trespass this morning after labelling genetically modified baby formula in Woolworths last month. 

The DIY labeling, part of a simultaneous protest in Sydney and Melbourne, came in the wake of shocking revelations on Channel Seven?s Sunday Night programme showing one of Australia?s most popular baby formulas ? Wyeth?s S-26 Soy ? repeatedly tested positive for genetically modified ingredients, despite not carrying any labelling. 

In sentencing, Magistrate McIntyre noted the defendants were women of high moral standing who had a fantastic commitment to the community. 

?It?s outrageous these women had to go to such lengths just to give parents the right to know what?s in the food they feed their babies,? Greenpeace Team Leader Laura Kelly said. 

?Sadly, Wyeth, Aussie supermarkets and our Government have all let Australian parents down. Mums and Dads have a right to choose whether to feed them genetically modified organisms or not. 

?These GM ingredients have never been tested on humans, and never been proven safe for babies. The supermarkets must remove them from the shelves until they are properly labelled, and the Government needs to remember it has a duty of care to all Australians, including its littlest citizens,? Ms Kelly said. 



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   BABY FORMULA PROTESTERS PUT ON BOND

SOURCE:  Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

AUTHOR:  Australian Associated Press, Australia

URL:     http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/baby-formula-protesters-put-on-bond-20101026-171ma.html

DATE:    26.10.2010

SUMMARY: "Parfitt said the protest had been worth the risk of a criminal conviction. "We took action to have this food labelled in order to give people an opportunity to make a choice." In sentencing the group, magistrate Susan McIntyre said she recognised the women's right to a peaceful protest, but she had to take account of community attitudes. "However you feel, it must be carried out within the confines of the law," she said."

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BABY FORMULA PROTESTERS PUT ON BOND

Six Greenpeace protesters have been given six-month good behaviour bonds for protesting in a supermarket over a baby formula they claimed had genetically modified ingredients.

The six women were part of a 15-strong group who staged a sit-down protest in a Woolworths supermarket at Neutral Bay in Sydney's north between 10am and 11am (AEST) on September 27.

The protesters sat in front of a display of S-26 baby formula, made by the Pfizer-owned company Wyeth Nutrition, which they claimed contained genetically modified ingredients.

The six women were arrested and charged with remaining on enclosed land without a lawful excuse, after they refused to leave.

The other nine protesters left of their own accord.

The women - Sarah Roberts, 32, Melissa Freeburn, 22, Rebecca Evenden, 32, Anna Parente, 20, Claire Parfitt, 30, and Olivia Rosenman, 24 - were all present in court on Tuesday.

Barrister Ragni Mathur, retained by Greenpeace to represent them, entered pleas of guilty on their behalf and submitted character references to North Sydney Local Court.

Speaking outside the court, Evenden, the mother of a ten-year-old girl, said she was relieved that no convictions had been recorded.

"It is something I am passionate about, so I am happy to do what I did," she told reporters.

"Every parent has the right to know. There is no way I would feed my kids any genetically modified organisms.

Parfitt said the protest had been worth the risk of a criminal conviction.

"We took action to have this food labelled in order to give people an opportunity to make a choice."

In sentencing the group, magistrate Susan McIntyre said she recognised the women's right to a peaceful protest, but she had to take account of community attitudes.

"However you feel, it must be carried out within the confines of the law," she said.

"You will confine yourself to legal behaviour or it will all come to nothing."

Ms McIntyre noted the women's "high moral standing" and that no person or property had been damaged in the protest.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   GREENPEACE ?CRIES WOLF? ABOUT GM FOOD INGREDIENTS

SOURCE:  Australian Food News, Australia (AFN)

AUTHOR:  Josette Dunn

URL:     http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2010/11/01/greenpeace-cries-wolf-about-gm-food-ingredients.html

DATE:    01.11.2010

SUMMARY: "While Greenpeace and many other activist groups seem happy to adopt and embrace other health related applications in technology, it is dumbfounding as to why GM food crops are so ferociously opposed. To accept and embrace technologies such as insulin which is mostly produced by GM bacteria, but to refuse food crops that benefit human health is hypocritical and a slap in the face of innovation. Regardless of their motivation, these claims deserve to be subjected to a much higher degree of scrutiny. It is no longer good enough to cry wolf."

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GREENPEACE ?CRIES WOLF? ABOUT GM FOOD INGREDIENTS

Many of us are familiar with Aesop?s story of the little boy who cried wolf. In the story a young shepherd entertains himself by watching the local villagers rush to assist him after his false warnings that a wolf is free in the flock. In the story the villagers stop believing the boy after he cries wolf a second time. However, when it comes to the succession of disproven and baseless claims by Greenpeace about genetically modified (GM) crops, we seem to have almost endless patience and Greenpeace has been unable to provide one piece of scientifically credible evidence that there is anything wrong with GM crops.

Why Greenpeace continue to raise concern over GM crops is perplexing. It is particularly baffling because the world faces huge challenges in feeding a growing population in a changing climate.

GM crops have delivered a wide range of benefits including reducing water, fuel and insecticide use and have increased farmer incomes across the globe by more than $50 billion. Greenpeace claims that GM crops increase costs to farmers and state there is no viable market for such crops. Claims such as these discredit Australian farmers as astute and independent thinkers who choose to grow GM. Farmers are highly skilled at using complex technologies, are often tertiary educated and are savvy businesspeople who have proven they can survive harsh climactic conditions and low prices for their crops. In other words, farmers would not choose to plant GM crops if they did not benefit from them.

Greenpeace?s ?Spliced Bread? report contains absolutely no new evidence and the few studies that have been quoted in the report are either misrepresented or have been thoroughly discredited by the scientific community. The report claims that conventional breeding is safer than genetic modification, but this is not the view conveyed by scientific experts in Australia and abroad.

* ?GM products have been in several foods for many years and consumed without any substantiated evidence of ill effects on health, and their safety confirmed by many peer-reviewed studies world-wide?. Australian Academy of Science (2007)

* ?There is a comprehensive body of knowledge that already adequately addresses current food safety issues including those dealing with GM products; it is considered by the experts as sufficient to assess the safety of GM products.? European Union Joint Research Centre (2008)

* ?GM foods currently available on the international market have undergone risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health any more than their conventional counterparts?. World Health Organization (2005)

These are independent bodies of expert scientists who have no vested interest in GM crops. Views such as those expressed by the WHO should be given more credibility than political and environmental activists who seek to repeat the same exhausted messages.

American philosopher George Santayana once said: ?Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?. If we do not put the alarmist claims of Greenpeace into context we will be condemned to a future where the scientific breakthroughs we require to feed a hungry world will be delayed for unsubstantiated reasons. This is already happening with GM Golden Rice.

Golden Rice produces a precursor of Vitamin A that the human stomach converts to Vitamin A during digestion. It has the potential to prevent millions of children from going blind or dying from Vitamin A deficiency in the third world. Although it was scientifically ready in 1999 it is still awaiting regulatory approvals and will probably be planted for the first time in 2012.

As noted by the Golden Rice developer Professor Ingo Potrykus, Golden Rice fulfils all the wishes the GMO opposition had earlier expressed in their criticism of the use of GM crops. Golden Rice has not been developed by and for industry. It fulfils an urgent need by complementing traditional interventions. It presents a sustainable, cost-free solution, not requiring other resources. It avoids the unfortunate negative side effects of the Green Revolution. Industry does not benefit from it. Those who benefit are the poor and disadvantaged. It is given free of charge and restrictions to subsistence farmers. It does not create any new dependencies. It will be grown without any additional inputs. It does not create advantages to rich landowners. It can be resown every year from the saved harvest. It does not reduce agricultural biodiversity and it does not affect natural biodiversity. There is, so far, no conceptual negative effect on the environment nor is there any conceivable r
 isk to consumer health. Finally, it was not possible to develop the trait with traditional methods.

Professor Potrykus concludes that ?Optimists might, therefore, have expected that the GMO opposition would welcome this case. As the contrary is the case, and GMO opposition is doing everything to prevent ?Golden Rice? reaching the subsistence farmer, we have learned that GMO opposition has a hidden, political agenda. It is not so much the concern about the environment, or the health of the consumer, or the help for the poor and disadvantaged. It is a radical fight against a technology and for political success.?

While Greenpeace and many other activist groups seem happy to adopt and embrace other health related applications in technology, it is dumbfounding as to why GM food crops are so ferociously opposed. To accept and embrace technologies such as insulin which is mostly produced by GM bacteria, but to refuse food crops that benefit human health is hypocritical and a slap in the face of innovation. Regardless of their motivation, these claims deserve to be subjected to a much higher degree of scrutiny. It is no longer good enough to cry wolf.




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