(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
Queensland Primary Industries
The following OPEN LETTER from the St Lucia Residents' Association to the Premier, Mr Peter Beattie, is self explanatory.
Today (Tuesday, 22 June 1999) on ABC Radio National around Australia, in a 50 minute segment of "AUSTRALIA TALKS BACK" we heard from Prof Fran Baum (Public Health Assoc), Prof Stephen Leeder (U.K.), Mr Ian Lindenmayer (C.E.O. the Australia NZ Food Authority) and Mr Mitch Hooke (C.E.O. Aust Food and Grocery Council), with numerous concerned members of the public alarmed at what is happening with our food supply and the introduction of GM ingredients.
This has particular relevance to us with the establishment of the $100 million Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, in which there has been remarkably little public debate, given the significance attached to biotechnology as perhaps our No: 1 industry for the future.
The Queensland Biotechnology Task Force is to undertake a range of immediate actions and identify longer term initiatives which will enhance the capacity of Biotechnology to create sustainable jobs and wealth for Queensland have regard to Government's economic, social and environmental objectives and to develop a Whole-of-Government approach to this important opportunity for Queensland. The Task Force shall provide a monthly report to the Deputy-Premier outlining progress, potential new initiatives and issues requiring resolution and a report to Cabinet on its findings by 30 June 1999.
We ask again, has your Queensland Biotechnology Task Force undertaken a Risk Assessment Analysis on the "opening of the floodgates" to genetically modified foods (with the acquiescence of the State Health Ministers in allowing a regulation free holiday for a year as occurred on 13 May 1999), or indeed, upon your government's initiative to allocate $270 million to " firmly establish Brisbane as Australia's Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and a major hub in the Asia-Pacific region"?
Our community is concerned not to have been consulted in this fundamental realignment. We would not want to see the Biotechnology Task Force "flush out the baby with the bathwater", as our commercial advantage in being "clean and green" and unpolluted by genetically manipulated concoctions, would seem to be very much more valuable than aligning ourselves with the American camp and being forced to compete with their restricted market, when the rest of the world wants nothing to do with "Franken-Foods"!
We would like your considered response as to how our environment is to be protected from the unforeseen consequences of this untested technology, how the safety of the Australian population is to be protected from the onslaught of the mutant products, and how the Queensland Biotechnology Task Force is going to handle the massive public backlash against GMO's, as was evident in the above radio program.
Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870