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BUSINESS & POLICY: Greenpeace “deceitful” in anti-GM campaign say Australian biotech research and industry bodies



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   GREENPEACE ?DECEITFUL? IN ANTI-GM CAMPAIGN: RESEARCH BODY

SOURCE:  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia (ABC)

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201107/s3264678.htm

DATE:    08.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Greenpeace is being accused of trying to make money out of a report which is scathing of genetically modified wheat trials. [...] The CSIRO says it?s confident it?s complied with appropriate processes to identify and deal with potential conflicts of interest. The Grains Research and Development Corporation says the Greenpeace findings are ?garbage?, saying GM doesn?t pose risk to health or the environment. Chairman Keith Perrett says the environmental lobby group?s being ?deceitful?. ?It is misleading the Australian consumer,? he said."

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GREENPEACE ?DECEITFUL? IN ANTI-GM CAMPAIGN: RESEARCH BODY

Greenpeace is being accused of trying to make money out of a report which is scathing of genetically modified wheat trials.

The Greenpeace report says the Federal Government is guilty of negligence for approving GM wheat trials and human feeding studies.

It says the research organisation CSIRO is helping to advance corporate and political agendas.

The CSIRO says it?s confident it?s complied with appropriate processes to identify and deal with potential conflicts of interest.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation says the Greenpeace findings are ?garbage?, saying GM doesn?t pose risk to health or the environment.

Chairman Keith Perrett says the environmental lobby group?s being ?deceitful?.

?It is misleading the Australian consumer,? he said.

?The wheat trials that are in Australia at the moment, they?re all about better water use efficiency, nitrogen use efficiency, increasing the yield, they?re the sort of GM traits that we?re working on.?

?Things that will provide a benefit to the farmer, a benefit to the environment and overall a benefit to the consumer.?

In a statement, Greenpeace says it?s the responsibility of the GRDC to map the potential impact of GM wheat commercialisation on Australia?s markets.

It says rather than attacking Greenpeace, the GRDC should do what taxpayers pay them to do and protect the interests of Australia.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   THE BASELESS CAMPAIGN AGAINST GM FOOD

SOURCE:  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia (ABC)

AUTHOR:  Opinion, by Matthew Cossey

URL:     http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2785818.html

DATE:    07.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Greenpeace claims that consumers don?t want GM food are comprehensively scuttled by a series of independent international and local consumer surveys showing that consumers around the world are happy to continue to eat GM food. So Greenpeace, having lost the battle to deny Australian farmers the right to grow GM canola, are again crying wolf on GM wheat in the hope of getting a juicy headline. [...] True environmentalists should be supporting new crop biotechnologies. Those genuinely committed to addressing world hunger should be embracing GM crops."

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THE BASELESS CAMPAIGN AGAINST GM FOOD

Matthew Cossey is chief executive of CropLife Australia.

Public statements this week by the head of Greenpeace International and his opinion piece on The Drum website confirm the activist group would rather court the media than protect the public interest.

The consequence of this media-driven approach is that Greenpeace agitates on issues they can easily sensationalise instead of those that are most important. Greenpeace?s determination to grab a headline regardless of the facts is most clearly shown by their baseless campaign against GM food.

It?s a little ironic that Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace International, is in Canberra this week to talk about climate action but at the same time Greenpeace commences a campaign against crop biotechnology and he submits a ludicrous and false article in support of that campaign. While he will acknowledge the primacy of the science on climate change, Mr Naidoo will conveniently ignore another substantial body of scientific evidence on GM crops because it doesn?t accord with his media strategy. He will continue to deny this evidence because it undermines Greenpeace?s opposition to GM food. It is somewhat ironic that those that demand governments listen, adhere to and take action on the mainstream science of climate change are also those who demand that government ignores the same mainstream, proven and peer-tested science on biotechnology in crops.

The inconvenient truth for Greenpeace is that GM crops are safe, a crucial agricultural tool in addressing global food security, and farmers want to use them. In addition, it?s a Greenpeace-generated fallacy that consumers don?t want GM food.

GM foods have been approved for sale and eaten safely in Australia, and around the world, for over 15 years. Over 1 trillion GM crop meals have been consumed over the past decade without a single health or safety issue.

GM crops have been more extensively studied and assessed for safety than any other foods and have been found to be safe. Independent scientific bodies such as the Australian Academy of Science and the World Health Organisation have confirmed the safety of foods produced from GM crops.

The Academy of Science found that ?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?.

Similarly, the World Health Organisation said ?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?.

These assessments ensure the safety of any GM crop that is planted or consumed in Australia. It could be argued that the higher level of scrutiny that is applied to GM crops and foods makes them safer than conventionally produced foods, which undergo no equivalent assessment.

The richest irony in Mr Naidoo?s denunciation of GM food is that crop biotechnology has been recognised as one of the innovative agricultural tools that will help farmers cope with challenges of climate change while responding to the world?s ever-growing need for food.

Food security is a daunting task even without Greenpeace?s unilateral rejection of a key food production tool. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says that global farm output must increase by 70 per cent, including a nearly 100 per cent jump in developing countries, to feed the world in 2050. At that time, the population will have risen to about 9.2 billion compared to 6.9 billion in 2010. The total number of undernourished people in 2010 was estimated at 925 million, higher that it was 40 years ago.

The magnitude of the food security challenge was reinforced earlier this year by a study on global food and farming futures conducted by the UK government?s chief scientific advisor and the Foresight Panel. The project involved around 400 leading experts and stakeholders from about 35 countries across the world, and drew upon over 100 peer-reviewed papers. It concluded that the only way to meet future food needs is through sustainable intensification of agriculture, through the combined use of GM crops with conventional and organic growing methods.

The FAO has concurred, saying that a new approach based on sustainable intensification of crop output is necessary to allow farmers to produce more from the same area of land by raising yields and at the same time conserve resources and minimise the impact of high intensity cropping on the environment.

GM crops have delivered a wide range of benefits to farmers including reduced water, fuel and insecticide use, as well as increased farmer incomes across the globe by more than $50 billion. Greenpeace claims that GM crops increase costs to farmers and states there is no viable market for such crops. Both have proven to be wrong, with Australian farmers getting access to key international markets and choosing to plant GM crops over successive seasons.

Greenpeace claims that consumers don?t want GM food are comprehensively scuttled by a series of independent international and local consumer surveys showing that consumers around the world are happy to continue to eat GM food.

So Greenpeace, having lost the battle to deny Australian farmers the right to grow GM canola, are again crying wolf on GM wheat in the hope of getting a juicy headline.

Mr Naidoo?s article, as with Greenpeace?s previous reports on this issue, contains absolutely no new evidence to suggest that GM wheat is unsafe and the few studies that have been quoted in the report are either misrepresented or thoroughly discredited by the scientific community. The claim that conventional breeding is safer than genetic modification is not the view conveyed by scientific experts in Australia and abroad.

The tenor of Kumi Naidoo?s rhetoric suggests that he knows Greenpeace?s anti-GM campaign is on shaky ground. The resort to demonisation of crop biotechnology developers smacks of desperation. As with most public debate, it is those that resort to baseless alarmist scaremongering that should be assessed closely by the public and approached with a high degree of scepticism.

Both private companies and government funded research organisations are trialing GM crops in Australia. The companies are developing GM crops because they want new and innovative products to sell to their customers which is demand driven. The governments are involved because they see an overwhelming public good being delivered by some of the technologies.

In light of this, Mr Naidoo?s accusation that four companies will own the world?s food chain is akin to the most hysterical of climate denialists warning against the one world government - it might get a headline, but it?s patently nonsense.

Why Greenpeace continues 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 while continuing to protect and conserve natural resources and the environment. True environmentalists should be supporting new crop biotechnologies. Those genuinely committed to addressing world hunger should be embracing GM crops.

In persisting with their quest to secure headlines without facts, Greenpeace has demonstrated yet again that they?re the worst kind of political agitators and not credible contributors to the public debate.