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Madge Digest #150 March 2018

Renaee's picture
Submitted by Renaee on Mon, 03/19/2018 - 19:31
  1. Please protect animals, plants and food by 12th April

  2. GMO-Free canola oil a huge success

  3. Family farm feeds the locals, restores soil and teaches kids

  4. Australian superfood eight times as nutritious as potato

1) Please protect animals, plants and food by 12th April

Once again, we are asking for your help. New techniques for altering life have been developed. Unless we act quickly Australia will allow them in our food, lives and bodies with no testing, labelling or public discussion. Farmers, gardeners and shoppers will not know what they are growing or eating. Please ask for all new techniques used to produce food to be regulated. Submissions close 12th April.

There is insufficient knowledge of the risks of these techniques and all of them should be regulated, according to Austrian government agencies. The Norwegian Environment and Development Agencies concluded further biosafety research needs to be done before these techniques are commercialised. New Zealand has ruled they are Genetic Modification and therefore need regulation. They cannot be used in organic food says the International Organic Federation IFOAM.

Under Australian law, these techniques are clearly gene technology and therefore should be regulated. Currently our technology and food regulators are holding consultations designed to remove the requirements that these techniques are regulated. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) convened an expert panel in 2012 and 13. It consisted almost entirely with genetic engineers with gene patents, and therefore conflicts of interest. They concluded the majority of techniques did not pose significant safety risks and that many should be deregulated.  This is in stark contrast to decisions of overseas government agencies.

We suggest that you ask for everything to be regulated including: gene editing, CRISPR, GM rootstock grafting, cisgenesis, intragenesis RNA interference and null segregants. (Sorry for the jargon - this is one way people's input is discouraged). Why? Because the research simply hasn't been done to show there are no unintended consequences and that these foods or techniques are safe for commercial use. They are required to be regulated under the Gene Technology Act 2000. This defines gene technology as "any technique for the modification of genes or other genetic material". It clearly includes all new GM techniques incluidng RNA interference.

We have a right to know what we are eating and growing. If these techniques are safe and valuable then pre-market testing, full labelling and follow up monitoring will confirm this.

Please make a submission by the 12th of April.

Please also contact National's Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie. She is Chair of the Forum that oversees our food regulator FSANZ who want to allow this new GM into our food. Ask her to ensure these new GM techniques are regulated. (03) 5441 4251 / 1300 889 103 toll free

If you would like to know more:

2) GMO-Free canola oil a huge success

GMO-Free canola has been a huge success for Australia according to a CSIRO report.

We've achieved a $100 million per year premium for our farmers, given the extra $20-$40 /tonne paid for Australian non-GM Australian canola.

It averages $1 billion a year for exporters. That market doesn’t exist for GM canola.

GMO-Free canola is booming in NSW too. Riverina Oil and BioEnergy was set up by the enthusiasm and persistence of Mr Saxena. He realized that canola could be processed into oil here instead of exporting it unprocessed. The oil extraction plant is in Wagga Wagga. It supplies the Australian market as well as India and the US.

Because most Australian canola is GM free, the plant's GM-free oil attracts a premium, especially in the United States, where the non-GM market for foods such as mayonnaise and potato chips is growing rapidly.

It is refreshing to see someone listening to what people want and to value-adding rather than just exporting raw materials. If Australia decides not to regulate the new GM techniques then all of these markets are at risk.

3) Family farm feeds the locals, restores soil and teaches kids

A biodynamic farm outside Canberra is concentrating on adding value to their neighbourhood in a myriad of ways. They set about rejuvenating the land first.

"You need a balanced system in your soil in order to produce good, nutritious food and it takes a long time to get there, Mr Koenig said.

The rejuvenated soil then delivers organic potatoes, garlic, pumpkins and green vegetables that are sold at the Canberra Regional Farmers Markets and local organic shops and restaurants.

"We are not set up to grow amounts for wholesalers; we really want to produce food for the local area," Mr Koenig said.

In addition to their farming, the Koenigs give Canberra school students from Merici College and Orana Steiner School the chance to experience organic farming first-hand.

4) Australian superfood eight times as nutritious as potato

It’s delicious, eight times as nutritious as a potato and is good for the soil. The murnong, is a yam daisy with a pretty flower and leaves that can be eaten in salads.

The tubers can be eaten raw and have a radish-like texture with a sweet and unique coconutty and grassy flavour. Roasting or frying murnong renders the taste similar to a potato, but with a naturally saltier flavour

They were grown widely grown by the traditional owners and were a common food. Rabbits, cattle and sheep grazed them out but some still survive in bushland. You can also buy seeds online and from specialist nurseries.

Since 2011, Gurandgi Munjie, a group of Aboriginal men and women, spearheaded by Pascoe, began reviving methods of traditional horticulture and reaping the native foods that followed. The project aimed not only to recover First Peoples’ traditional foods and culture, but also to become a unique food-led form of reconciliation where the work of Indigenous growers could provide healthy produce for high-end and commercial chefs and restaurants.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.” Howard Zinn


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