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Madge Digest #148 November 2017

Renaee's picture
Submitted by Renaee on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 20:38
  1. URGENT help regulate new GM techniques on animals, plants, humans, crops, trees and microbes. 
  2. Huge win: Farmers and civil society reject new GMO's at UN Food and Agriculture meeting 
  3. Call of the Reed Warbler - using farming to bring back birds, bees, beauty and health to our planet. 
  4. Sign to save small scale, local, ethical pork and poultry farming in VIctoria.

1) URGENT: Help regulate new GM techniques on animals, plants, humans, crops, trees and microbes

Three reviews on GM technologies in Australia will have huge effects on our food, health and environment:

  • Forums on the Review of the national Gene Tech Scheme are in Sydney and Adelaide this week and other capital cities later. Register here. This review has the potential to: remove the ability for States to have GM Moratoriums, remove GM labelling requirements, avoid any pre-market approval by using a product instead of process based regulation and allow GM contamination in Organic food.
  • OGTR review of the rules on new GMOs. Sign this petition to ask the Assistant Health Minister to regulate them.New GM techniques including CRISPR, RNA interference could be used to create GM animals, microbes, crop plants, fish, humans, trees etc. The Gene Technology Act 2000 defines gene technology as "any technique for the modification of genes or other genetic material" therefore all GM techniques and their products should be regulated.

This review proposes deregulating the most popular new GM techniques. It would mean no pre-market testing, no register of what is GM and no labelling. Farmers would not know if the seed they are using was produced using these techniques or not. There is no history of safe use for these techniques. For example, CRISPR was first used for gene editing in 2013 yet it could be in our food, lives and environment with no oversight.

These new techniques are as unpredictable and hazardous as the old GM. Scientists have stated that these techniques should be regulated as GM. IFOAM, the international organic body wants regulation as well. Last year the US Intelligence community’s annual worldwide threat assessment report found these new gene editing techniques to be “weapons of mass destruction and proliferation.” More information on these techniques are in this fact sheet and longer report here

  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is deciding whether to regulate new GM foods. FSANZ is conducting a review into whether it will require pre-market approvals for the new GM breeding techniques. It says there will be a public consultation before the review is completed mid 2018.

It is essential that the public has a voice in these discussions and that these techniques are strongly regulated.

2) Huge win: Farmers and civil society reject new GMO’s at UN Food and Agriculture meeting 

The FAO meeting in Kuala Lumpur was funded by the US, Australia and Canada, three pro-GM governments. The aim was to roll out more GM in the Asia Pacific and hold similar meetings in other continents. Instead civil society and farmers organized together to show GM has failed and we need agroecology (see item 3). Further meetings promoting GM have been cancelled. GM is falsely pushed as being needed to ‘feed the world’. There is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone and many of the hungry and poor are farmers damaged by the current food system. “Delegates observed that, just as with older GM techniques, the use of these techniques in food crops will increase corporate control over seeds; diminish the rich, diverse diets of local communities; promote monoculture; increase biosafety risks to health and environment; and need high investment and complicated regulatory frameworks which many countries lack.”

3) Call of the Reed Warbler – using farming to bring back birds, bees, beauty and health to our planet.

Charles Massy began farming as a 22 year-old after his father suffered a massive heart attack. He initially continued on the dominant path of industrial agriculture. His farm suffered and he began exploring alternatives. He found the most important aspect is attitude. "Mechanical" industrial mind needs to evolve into "Emergent" mind. This sees what the landscape is doing and acts skilfully, or gets out of the way, to enable health on all levels to naturally emerge. Massy describes the work of many inspiring farmers from around the world who are bringing life and healing back to the land. It is a book of amazing beauty, poetry and hope. 

He was interviewed on Late Night Live.

4) Sign to save small scale, local, ethical pork and poultry farming in Victoria.

The Victorian Government is proposing reforms to planning controls that will treat small, outdoor, pastured production of pork and poultry the same as huge sheds full of thousands of animals. This is likely to lead to many small, regenerative farmers going out of business. Famers' Markets, local economies and people looking for ethical alternatives will lose out. Please consider signing this petition to the Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford.

Instead of a story about plunder, poison, productivity, meaningless consumption and ‘growth’, those in the process of change can instead imbibe stories about regenerating landscapes, beauty and natural health, sustainable livelihoods, community, family and human health. Ultimately, therefore, it is a story about Mother Earth and her systems and our deep co-dependency with these.

Charles Massy

Happy Eating