One Nations Concerns on
Genetically Engineered Food

One Nation Calls for Moratorium on Genetically Engineered Crops
Environmental Reasons for a Moratorium on Genetically
Engineered Crop Trials

Aventis and Monsanto Remedial Action
Threat to Organic Farmers Viability
Ignored: Farmers call for a Moratorium on GE Crops
Urgent Needs for Existing and Post Harvest Trials
One Nation Opposition to GE Foods and Crops

Senator Len Harris


One Nation calls for moratorium on Genetically Engineered crops -
"monitoring is negligible"
28 February 2002

One Nation Senator Len Harris has called for a moratorium on the field
trials of genetically engineered food crops in Australia. Approved GE
crop trials include apples, sugarcane, pineapples, wheat, grapes,
barley, paw paw, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, canola and cotton.

"I am calling for a moratorium because I do not believe GE crops are
being adequately monitored by the Office of the Gene Technology
Regulator (OGTR)," Senator Harris said today.

"The latest report from the OGTR indicates only 16 of the 105 trial
sites that were current for the July to September 2001 quarter were
monitored and of the 581 sites subject to post harvest monitoring
during the quarter, only 68 were visited. I wonder whether the OGTR
is critically under funded and under resourced?"

"Of the 16 sites visited, remedial action was necessary in four
cases - two involving Aventis and two involving Monsanto. I question
what is going on at the other 89 current sites and the 513 post
harvest sites that were not visited," Senator Harris said.

"Every single Genetically Engineered crop must be monitored because
it is being grown as a 'trial' - an experiment - and the environmental
hazards of these crops are still unknown."

"There is scientific evidence to suggest that wind, insect pollinators,
birds, rain and possibly even cattle can carry genetically altered pollen
into adjoining fields, polluting the DNA of crops of organic and non
GE farmers," Senator Harris said.

"The OGTR is already investigating two instances where gene flow may
have occurred under the voluntary system prior to 21 June 2001. Once
DNA has escaped into the environment, it is impossible to remove or
destroy it."

"Many farmers are diversifying into organics due to industry
deregulation and Genetically Engineered crop trials are a particular
threat to them," Senator Harris said.

As of July 2001, there were 105 deemed licences covering 629 sites
for genetically engineered crop trials in Australia. The breakdown was
Queensland 41; NSW 143; SA 130; WA 156; Tasmania 59; NT 10;
Victoria 83; ACT 7.

"Australia is being used as a huge experimental laboratory. I will be
asking the Minister whether the proliferation of Genetically
Engineered crop trials around Australia is deliberately targeted very
broadly to create the situation where no area will be able to
substantiate it's GE free status."

Senator Harris sharply criticised the OGTR's website for 'information
obfuscation.' "Certainly, all of the trials are listed, but there is
no universal document providing the name of the company involved,
the precise location of the trial, the trait that has been engineered and
the number of acres under cultivation."

"The way the website has been set up, you have to correlate one master
file (a PDF) with each individual licence application (again, a PDF
file) to ascertain exactly what is or has been grown and where. The
data is not presented in a user friendly manner."

"2002- 2003 is likely to see an upsurge of new applications for
licences as companies seek to continue their work. This is an
opportune time for a moratorium to commence," Senator Harris said.


GE crop trial moratorium
28 February 2002

Environmental Reasons for a Moratorium on Genetically
Engineered Crop Trials

· Insufficient monitoring of current and post harvest sites. All sites
must be monitored every quarter. (see media release)

· Toxins and poisons. It is uncertain what toxins and poisons are left
in the soil from GE crop trials and whether they are harmful to
organic and conventional farming.

· Resistance factor. The creation of 'superweeds' is possible. Common
weeds may build up resistance to herbicides used on crops that have
been engineered for herbicide tolerance.

· Uncertainty regarding gene flow. Ignacio Chapela and David Quist of
the University of California, Berkeley, US, compared wild maize from
the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca mountains in Mexico with GM varieties from
the Monsanto company in the US and with samples known to be
uncontaminated. They found that some of the wild samples were
contaminated with telltale sections of DNA from GM crops. (Reported in
the science journal Nature, November 2001)

· Antibiotic resistance. Foreign genes are often 'marked' with an
antibiotic resistance gene to help determine if the first gene was
successfully spliced into the host organism. There is concern that
antibiotic resistant genes could recombine with disease causing
bacteria or microbes in the environment or in the gut of animals or
people who eat GE food, contributing to a rise of antibiotic resistant

Aventis and Monsanto Remedial Action

(cited in Media Release)

In April 2001, the then Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge
condemned Aventis and Monsanto for letting 21 old canola crop
sites in Tasmania re-sprout. Dr Wooldridge said voluntary controls
were "flagrantly flouted". The worst offender was Aventis, with 18
breaches, while Monsanto had three. The OGTR has asked these
same two companies to take remedial action in their latest crop trials.

Remedial actions required:

PR63X(6) Site 1 - Aventis trial of Canola modified for herbicide
tolerance. The western edge of the pollen trap/buffer had significant
gaps through poor initial establishment of plants within the buffer.
Without remedial action, the pollen trap would not have been at an
appropriate density to function when flowering occurred. The trial had
not reached flowering so there was a negligible risk to the

PR63X(6) Site 4 - Aventis trial of Canola modified for herbicide
tolerance. The Pollen trap/buffer had poor establishment and growth
on the southern side of trial site. The pollen trap met the requirement
of 15m in width but plants in the pollen trap were not at a similar
density to that of the trial. Without remedial action, the pollen trap
would not have been at an appropriate density to function when
flowering of the trial occurred. As the trial had not reached
flowering, there was a negligible risk to the environment.

PR77X(4) Site 3 - Monsanto trial of Canola modified for resistance to
Round Up. The southern and northern edges of the pollen trap/buffer
had significant gaps in the buffer and the southern side in particular
displayed symptoms of herbicide damage that had caused the death
of significant proportions of the buffer. Without remedial action, the
pollen trap would not have been at an appropriate density to function
when flowering of the trial occurred. The trial had not reached
flowering so there was a negligible risk to the environment. Monsanto
decided of its own volition to destroy the trial crop.

PR77X(4) Site 6 - Monsanto trial of Canola engineered for resistance
to Round Up. The western edge of the pollen trap/buffer displayed
symptoms of herbicide effect that had damaged growth of small sections
of the buffer. The site was monitored to ensure the buffer was
sufficient to meet licence conditions. The trial had not reached
flowering so the risk to the environment was negligible.

Threat to Organic Farmers Viability

Organic farmers could lose their certification if their crops were
found to be polluted with Genetically Engineered material. Some
farmers in the US have already lost their market due to pollution from
neighbouring fields. Conventional non-GMO farmers may also lose their
market with GMO contamination. For example, in late 1998, NSW canola
farmers sold the largest cargo ever to leave Australia (57 thousand
tonnes valued at $26 million) to the EU. The reason for the sales from
Australia, instead of from Canada, was reported to be that
'...Australia is the only country to guarantee non-genetically
modified canola'

Even without the commercialisation of GE canola in Australia, this
market could be disrupted by the existence of field trials, as pollen
from such fields can cause contamination in other fields. Three years
Ago, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) of Canada, called for the
federal government to make agricultural biotechnology companies
financially responsible for the 'genetic pollution' of organic and
traditional crops.

There is also doubtfulness over the financial viability of GE crops. A
study by the former executive director of the National Academy of
Science Board of Agriculture U.S. found farmers lost a net $92 million
during a five-year period by planting gene-modified corn, rather than
conventional corn .

Ignored: Farmers call for a Moratorium on GE Crops

A 1999 report in Farm Weekly showed fifty-five per cent of farmers
favoured a five-year moratorium on GMO crops.

GE Crop Insurance Risks "Similar to those related to Asbestos"

The possible liability for contamination of other farmers' crops is an
aspect not adequately addressed to date. Some crops, such as canola,
can pollinate plants further away than previously thought. Liability
becomes especially important when contamination means loss of markets
for other farmers.

The Insurance Council of Australia has warned that genetically
modified (GM) food has unforeseen risks for the insurance industry. In
a June 2000 submission to a House of Representatives committee report
on gene technology, the Council said that farmers, manufacturers and
retailers were unlikely to be able to secure liability insurance for
GM products. The Council's Executive Director, Robert Drummond, said
the risks were similar to those associated with asbestos, where
companies faced enormous claims 20 to 30 years later.

Some countries have looked into the possibility of insurance against
damage from Genetically Engineered crops. In Spain, companies which
produce or plant GE crops have to contribute to a fund intended to
cover environmental accidents. In Switzerland, the world's second
largest insurance company mentions problems with risk assessment of
GMOs, as risks of genetic engineering cannot be covered with classical
liability insurance models.

Urgent Needs for Existing and Post Harvest Trials

· One Nation calls for an independent review panel to ensure that
experiments approved by the OGTR are meeting scientific standards.
Another level of assurance is necessary. For example, the CSIRO (in
conjunction with industry) has conducted more than 30 GE crop trials -
in this instance, the government could be seen to be regulating its
own experiments. Critics could argue that there is a potential
conflict of interest.

One Nation Opposition to GE Foods and Crops

One Nation has historically taken a strong stance against Genetically
Engineered food and crops. Senator Len Harris moved a number of
amendments in an attempt to tighten the regulatory framework
established via the Gene Technology Act 2000. In particular, Senator
Harris moved that local government areas be allowed to declare
themselves GE free. The amendment was voted down.

One Nation has continuously voiced concern over the safety of GE
foods, which Senator Harris said would give multinational corporations
complete control over farming. In particular, Senator Harris has
raised the alarm over the development of Terminator and Traitor
technologies, which would render seeds infertile and force hundreds of
millions of farmers who now save and share their seeds to purchase
expensive GE seeds and chemical inputs from a handful of global
biotech/seed monopolies.

Senator Harris said he agreed with the sentiments of Dr David Suzuki,
a geneticist by training, who said:

"We only have to reflect on DDT, nuclear power, and CFCs, which were
hailed as wonderful creations but whose long-term detrimental effects
were only found decades after their widespread use."

"Clearly, we cannot always rely on a purely scientific framework for
analysis," Senator Harris said.

"What we are talking about is trails of a new technology, even the
life sciences companies admit that there are concerns. The Australian
recently quoted a Monsanto spokesperson who admitted there "were still
some environmental issues that the company would continue to look at
as it conducts trials."

If the government refuses to approve a moratorium on GE crop trials,
then at a minimum, all crop trials must proceed only in closed
laboratory conditions due to potential environmental hazards. Even the
Life Sciences companies recognise the environmental unknowns.

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