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Stealth changes to food act mean new technologies to go unassessed

For Immediate Release 14th October 2015

MADGE is concerned that the definition of gene technology, GMO and GM product will be removed via proposed changes to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Amendment (Forum on Food Regulation and Other Measures) Bill 2015 was scheduled for debate in the House and Senate during October.

"This appears to be to allow risky new forms of Genetic Modification to appear on our plates without any assessment, regulation or monitoring." Said Fran Murrell from MADGE.

"New types of GM breeding such as CRISPR/Cas9 and RNA interference may escape any form of regulation or even a record they are being used. They carry the same risks as the earlier forms of GM crops.

As anyone who uses a computer knows a tiny change in a programme can have catastrophic and unintended results. Yet we have genetic engineers claiming to be able to alter the genetic code, one they haven't written, don't fully understand and don't test, with complete accuracy and no unexpected consequences.

We are tired of our regulators allowing corporations to profit from poorly tested, unneeded and risky technologies. We do not want to be experimented on."

MADGE is calling for:

  • All members of the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation to be consulted on the changes.
  • The matter to be referred to Committee to examine the full implications of the changes.
  • A moratorium on the commercialisation of these techniques until our regulatory system for GMOs is adapted to deal with the potential risks posed by them.

For comment contact: Fran Murrell 0401 407 944