The Greens care about Australian food security and environmental sustainability. We are the only ones prepared to stand up to big GM companies. Our plan will give farmers and consumers genuine choice and control over the food that we grow and eat.
The Greens have always had concerns about the impacts of genetically modified organisms, including increasing corporate control over our food chain. Greater corporate control can limit consumer choice, and make it harder for people to make informed choices about their food.
Corporate control of our food system
Following recent consolidation, a small number of corporations have significant control over agrichemical and seed sales, and in turn greater influence on our food chain. This is concerning because it means greater corporate control over some types of agricultural research. Scientists have raised concerns about being blocked from conducting research on genetically modified strains, which are controlled through intellectual property laws.
Protecting farmers: A GM contamination levy
When non-GM crops are contaminated by GM crops, it is important that liability lies with those responsible. In order to reverse liability so that GM companies are held responsible, we propose to introduce a levy upon GM companies.
Non-GM landholders can draw from this levy pool to recoup financial losses in the case of contamination. $2 million will be provided for an independent research and development group to undertake a scoping study on how best to establish the GM contamination levy.
The aim of the levy is to:
- Require GM companies to pay an annual levy based on volume of seed sold. The funds would be held in a trust fund for non- GM growers to draw on in case of contamination.
- Protect non-GM growers through compensating for crop testing, contamination clean-up, market losses and reductions to land value. The availability of a compensation scheme means farmers will not have to resort to law courts.
Protecting consumers: An inquiry into GM assessments
We all have a right to eat safe and healthy food. Individual GM foods and their safety need to be assessed individually. At present, the Australian body that assesses genetically modified products (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand; FSANZ) does not adequately assess new genetic modification techniques in their evaluations.
The Greens plan to launch an inquiry into the assessment of all GM products, to strengthen our testing processes which will protect our tight to genuine choice over the food we eat.
Caring for consumers: Mandatory labelling
Australians should be able to choose GM free food. Yet the labelling of GM food in Australia is extremely limited, and excludes some of the most basic and universally used ingredients. The Greens will improve labelling by introducing comprehensive, mandatory labelling for GM food, to allow consumers to make an informed choice.