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Pacific Ecologist

Open transgenic experimentation IS bioterrorism

Editorial from Pacific Ecologist 6 Spring 2003 by KAY WEIR

A recent development in the U.S. government's "war on terrorism," highlights monumental hypocrisy and the farcical state of international relations. New regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to counter potential food-borne bioterrorism, include stringent prior notification, along with registration of foreign food facilities, and inventories from food exporters to the US, etc. " Securing our food supply against terrorist threats is one of our most important public health priorities, especially at a time of heightened alert," says Tommy G. Thompson, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, in a release on the FDA report, "Ensuring the Safety and Security of the Nation's Food Supply," (July 2003). The new food regulations will jeopardise the ability of many exporters to operate in the US market and amount to trade restrictions, running counter to free-market policies the US so forcefully advises the rest of the world to follow.

While regulating now for food safety, in fear of bioterrorism, for years the US has stridently opposed labelling of genetically engineered food and segregation of GE seed, against the food safety and security interests of millions of people worldwide. The US government has blatantly experimented on its own people with a dangerous, revolutionary, under-regulated, under-researched "new technology" in food, as Ronnie Cummins describes from page 9. It has also polluted countries with GE seeds, infringing the biosecurity of sovereign countries, causing biosecurity alerts from countries as divergent as New Zealand, Japan and Africa - see page 7 and articles by Chris Wheeler, and Tewolde Egzhiabher. This has been very costly for other countries in many ways.

Also, at this very time, the US is challenging the EU in the World Trade Organisation over its food labelling laws for GE foods and seeks to undermine the Biosafety Protocol now in force which allows countries to reject GE food and seed. Shamefully, both Australian and New Zealand governments have supported the US in this challenge, against their own biosafety and biodiversity interests as well as other countries. It is outrageous that the US government, which has in effect been acting as an agent of bioterroism for the past decade in imposing GE food and agriculture upon the world - including its own citizens - now talks of "securing the nation's food supply."

Infamously, over decades the US has threatened food security for millions of people in third world countries, insisting they open their markets while keeping its own subsidies and protectionist policies. This was the reason Third World countries walked out on the Cancun talks in September, see page 39. Millions of people have died of hunger as a result of the double standards of successive US governments, espousing one law for other countries, and another for itself. On this level alone, US policies are bioterrorism incarnate for millions.

This issue of Pacific Ecologist documents the ineptness, failings and dangers in the "science," and the regulatory charade of genetic engineering, driven as they have been by commercial imperatives. Just look at the article by Masaharu Kawata on the shonky data governments accepted from Monsanto on GE soybeans. The magnificent efforts of scientists like, Joe Cummins, Mae-Wan Ho, Vandana Shiva, Arpad Pusztai and many others, have helped fire international revolt against the imposition of GE. New reports being published in the U.K. as this issue goes to press, referred to on pages 40/41 add to the ever increasing catalogue of evidence against GE. Let's hope the Australian and New Zealand governments find the courage soon to say no to the US and stop further releases of GE crops they are currently set to allow. It would be terrible if New Zealand and Australia, or any other country became the dumping grounds for the GE crops and food that the US is unable to sell or plant elsewhere.

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