Genetic Engineering in Food, Crops and Pharmaceuticals

Principles

The Greens NSW believe:

1. Genetically manipulated organisms (GMOs), their products, and the chemicals used to manage them pose significant risks to natural and agricultural ecosystems and human health.

2. The precautionary principle (as defined in the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991) must be enshrined in legislation and applied to the use of GMOs and the techniques for producing them.

3. Living organisms such as plants, animals and micro-organisms are not inventions. Patents on life are unethical and against the public interest and must be opposed.

4. The Australian government must prohibit unethical use of ‘terminator’ technologies (Gene Use Restriction) that prevent seeds from germinating when planted.

5. Farmers and consumers have a right to grow and consume non-GM foods.

6. Everyone has the right to know, through the mandatory, comprehensive, clear and truthful labelling of those products, if foods contain any ingredients made using GM techniques.

7. Effective regulatory action of genetic manipulation is required at all levels of government. 

8. Agricultural research, education and practice must emphasise on environmentally sustainable methods of farming and organic practices.

Aims

Greens NSW support and will work to:

9. Maintain a moratorium on the release of GMOs in New South Wales until it is proven that their release does not offend the precautionary principle.

10. A rigorous, independently-peer-reviewed approach to assessing and licensing GMOs that sets objective benchmarks, standards and quality assurance systems in advance of the use and release of GMOs.

11. A strengthened, transparent, precautionary regulatory and monitoring system that prevents GMO contamination.

12. Ensure the Gene Technology laws are interpreted in accordance with the following principles:

a.    If there is conflict between the public interest and the private interests of any person, the public interest prevails;

b.    In recognition of the fact that there are existing GM crops in NSW, all reasonable steps must be taken to prevent risks to human health and the health of the environment;

c.    Support an independent review of existing GM crops including GM canola and GM cotton to inquire into health, environmental, economic and industry aspects of GM crops including their use.

13. Amend the Gene Technology laws to permit any area of NSW to be declared a GM-free zone, either on a submission from the Minister for Health, the Minister for Environment, the Minister for Primary Industries & Natural Resources, or by resolution from a local council to declare a GM-free zone.

14. Ensure that strict regulations are put in place to prevent contamination of organic and GM-free crops in areas where GM crops are permitted, with any contamination to be removed at the joint expense of the persons growing the crop and the patent holder.

15. Provide that licences and exemptions must be periodically reviewed and assessed against the precautionary principle.

16. Amend laws to place the following constraints on the discretion of the Regulator to issue GMO licences:

a.    If the proposed licence may pose significant risks to the health and safety of people or to the environment, then the Regulator may not grant the licence without the concurrence of the Technical Advisory Committee, the Ethics Committee and the Community Consultative Committee.

b.    The Regulator may not grant a licence permitting a release of a GMO into the environment if the Technical Advisory Committee advises that there is a risk that the GMO will contaminate beyond the area subject to the licence

c.    A licence may not be granted to an applicant who has been convicted of a serious offence concerning human health or the environment.

d.    A licence may not be granted to a corporation, if a person who has been convicted of a serious offence concerning human health or the environment is involved in the management of the corporation.

17. Encourage local councils to supply GM-free food for all services run by local councils including meals-on-wheels and child-care centres;

18. Establish mandatory, comprehensive, clear and truthful labelling all food products (including unpackaged foods in take-away outlets, restaurants and airlines)containing GM ingredients or their derivatives including the labelling of oils, starches, sugars and other highly processed foods.

19. Ensure NSW retains a retroactive veto power on the general release of all GMOs with the right to revoke all existing contracts and agreements to grow GM crops on both public and private land.

20. Where GMOs are seen as incompatible with the general public's wishes, economic interests or environmental concerns, Local Government is empowered to hold a similar veto power with local communities, through a consultation mechanism, to comprehensively reject GMOs.

21. Require each GM licence holder to hold insurance sufficient to cover potential costs of any impact on human health, the environment and non-GM markets.

22. Require that the GM industry establish a compensation fund to resolve any of the adverse impacts of GM crops, including compensation for farmers who are obligated to destroy GM or GM-contaminated crops or aquaculture products.

23. Establish a publicly accessible inventory of the exact sites of all past and current GMO releases for trial or commercial purposes.

24. Mandate independent research, funded by the GM industry, to investigate the effects of GM crops on agriculture and natural communities within 10 km radii of past GMO release sites, with the testing zone to be extended if necessary.

25. Notify all residents and producers within a 10 km radius of all such GMO releases; notification to include past release dates, nature of trials or commercial releases, and existing genetic contamination status.

26.  Ban the patenting of all living organisms, viruses, proteins and DNA sequences whether naturally occurring, genetically altered or otherwise manipulated.

27. Deny recognition of similar patents from other countries.

28. Support joint federal and state government funding for independent scientific research to investigate the potential risks of GM to human and animal health and environment.

29. Provide practical and financial support to farmers undertaking conversion to organic production and to those interested in conducting conversion studies.

30. Establish tax incentives for organic farmers in recognition of the benefits that sustainable production and land management provide to society as a whole.

31. Promote and provide information on sustainable food production to both primary and high schools

32. Promote the incorporation of sustainable-food-production course components in Agricultural Studies and Science courses and as options within TAFE and tertiary studies.

33. Subject to the precautionary principle, support the use of GMO technology for the purpose of producing pharmaceuticals.

34. Allocate public funds for the research and development of GMO technology for the production of pharmaceuticals.

Definitions:

Genetic Manipulation (GM) is the artificial manipulation of DNA in a cell with the introduction of DNA from another cell or source or, the deletion of parts of DNA from that cell.

Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have been genetically manipulated.