It is Consumers SA policy that any food produced through genetic modification should be labelled for transparency and to allow consumer choice. The following advice from Dr Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research is therefore reprinted in the public interest and for action as individual readers decide:
A bill has been presented to Parliament that is trying to deregulate some new genetic modification (GM) techniques and the genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) that are produced as a result, by classifying them as non-GMOs.
Do you know what that could mean for your health? The health of your family and friends? No? You are not alone. Yet the Federal Government is still trying to deregulate them. This means that these new GMOs will come into your food or water supply without any safety testing, including for any allergic, toxic, reproductive or cancer-causing effects. There will be no labelling, either, so you will be consuming them whether you want to or not.
One technique is called SDN-1 (site-directed nuclease-1). Numerous scientific papers have been published showing that this process is not as precise as previously thought and can have numerous “off target” effects on the engineered organism, such as affecting other genes in the organism.
There are many organisms that could be quickly released into the Australian food supply if this technique is deregulated. They include crops (e.g. wheat, rice and canola), fruit (e.g. strawberries, grapes and apples), vegetables (e.g. potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber), animals (e.g. fish, sheep, chickens, pigs and cows), and micro-organisms such as yeast (e.g. used for making bread, beer and wine), bacteria (e.g. used to make yoghurt) and viruses.
Furthermore, unskilled biohackers will be able to buy cheap kits over the internet and alter genes in bacteria and viruses in their kitchen and then release those microbes. All without any government oversight.
The European Union’s Court of Justice has ruled that this technique needs to be assessed for safety in the same way as the old techniques. New Zealand will regulate organisms derived from these techniques as GMOs. Over 60 international scientists have signed a statement calling for them to be strictly regulated.
The second major technique being deregulated uses dsRNA (double stranded ribonucleic acid) methods. The aim is to put a small section of dsRNA into a plant or other organism by methods such as spraying, dipping, injecting, using a virus, or by eating something that contains the dsRNA. The aim is to change the expression of genes by e.g. silencing them. dsRNA molecules have many uses. For example, they can be sprayed as an insecticide to silence genes in insects to kill them, and they can be sprayed onto fruit and vegetables on supermarket shelves to lengthen shelf-life. Deregulation means that certain dsRNAs can be used by anyone, without any oversight and without first determining if they have any effect on you, or whether any changes to gene expression can be inherited.
There is no consensus that organisms produced by these methods are safe for your health. The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the principal non-government organisation for population health in Australia, has called for these techniques to be regulated.
More information can be found in the attached scientific briefing paper, written in everyday English.
If you are concerned, please send an email to the following people expressing your concern and asking “for Gene Technology Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2019;12 to be blocked, by, for example, withdrawing the legislation, voting against the legislation, or disallowing it”. Please tell them that instead, you want these new GMOs to be regulated and labelled.
Hon. Greg Hunt, Minister for Health. Minister.Hunt@health.gov.au
Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Minister for Health. Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Stirling Griff, Spokesperson for Health for the Centre Alliance Party. Senator.email@example.com
Senator Richard Di Natale, Spokesperson for Health for the Greens. Senator.firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Agriculture, and Leader of the Nationals in the Senate. Senator.email@example.com
Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources. Joel.firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Rebekha Sharkie, Spokesperson for Agriculture, Centre Alliance Party. Rebekha.email@example.com
Senator Janet Rice, Spokesperson for Agriculture, the Greens. Senator.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also feel free to look up your local member of Federal Parliament and any Senators from your State to send them a similar email. A list of Federal Government politicians can be found here:
Please feel free to send this email and the attached scientific document to other consumers.
Dr Judy Carman
Dr Judy Carman BSc (Hons) PhD MPH MPHAA
Epidemiologist and Biochemist
Institute of Health and Environmental Research
PO Box 155
Kensington Park, South Australia, 5068
Phone within Australia: 0408 480 944
Phone outside of Australia: +61 408 480 944