FARMERS from across Australia are stunned by today’s Greenpeace celebrity and chef stunt suggesting Australian food is unsafe with the release of the “2011 True Food Guide.”
“It is astonishing that food advocates would suggest Australian farmers are growing unsafe and untested crops,” said Heather Baldock, Producers Forum National Convenor, SA farmer and mother of three.
“GM crops have been grown, traded and consumed around the world for 15 years, including in Australia,” she said.
“GM cotton, grown since 1996, has delivered substantial benefits to cotton growers, including local cotton communities, through a significant, 80% reduction in pesticide use,” said Jeff Bidstrup, GM cotton grower.
“Australia’s cotton industry is very proud of the positive environmental changes it has made over the last decade and gene technology has played a critical role in this,” he said.
Gene technology allows researchers to alter one or two genes, in a plant’s 30,000 genes, to provide the plant with in-built pest and disease resistance. Future GM crops will contain healthier oil profiles, enhanced starch to protect against diseases such as bowel cancer, and plants with in-built resilience to prolonged periods without water – critical for the Australian environment.
“All new technologies can present doubts, but I urge parents across Australia to look to science-based information on this topic, not celebrities and costumes,” said Mrs Baldock.
“Sadly, consumers are moving further away from our farm gate and their knowledge of agriculture and food production is dwindling,” she said. “As an Australian farmer, my priority is to deliver safe, affordable food in an environmentally-friendly manner to sustain my farm, my family and the future of Australian food production.
“I urge parents to see beyond public relations stunts and campaigns, and look to Australia’s farming and food producing history. Farmers produce safe food – that’s our commitment,” she said.
While more than 180 chefs have signed Greenpeace's GM Free Charter since it was launched two years ago, an opposition group has now sprung up, claiming that signatories are "ill-informed" and "grandstanding".
Some of the country's top foodies, including Peter Gilmore of Quay, Neil Perry of Rockpool, Matt Moran of ARIA and Margaret Fulton, are signatories to the treaty, which states they are opposed to the use of GM foods in Australian restaurants.
Gilmore said he was against the principle of genetic engineering and found it unacceptable that current laws meant that food did not have to be labelled as being modified.
"When you start talking about fish genes in strawberries … it becomes a concern," Gilmore said.
"I don't like the idea of consuming something that has been genetically modified. They have a lot of foreign organisms that are not supposed to be in food.
"At the end of the day, people have a right to be informed. It is really about freedom of information and the right to know."
However, other chefs disagreed, saying the technology was a way to make food production sustainable.
Luke Mangan, of glass brasserie, has remained open to the use of GM foods since a blog he wrote in 2008 which said the innovation could "potentially help millions of people around the world".
Mangan said yesterday he had refused to sign the charter because he believed more discussion was required.
"More info is required but some benefits sound fantastic – drought resistance, higher levels of production and sustainability in the food supply," he said.
Glenn Austin, founder of X-Treme Chef Consulting and the first Australian to be voted to the World Board of Chefs, criticised chefs who signed the charter. Austin, also the chef for Fonterra Global Executive, a multinational dairy company which supports gene modification, said: "There are a few (chefs) who are trying to have a beat-up about it and they are quite ill-informed. If they went through their own cupboards, they would find that most of what is in there contains genetically modified food."
Former deputy chief and current honorary fellow of the CSIRO Plant Industry, TJ Higgins, wrote to the chefs who signed the charter, asking them to reconsider their position.
"The mainstream chefs don't have any problem with GM if they know a little bit about the science, but there are a lot of 'celebrity chefs' who have a different agenda," Dr Higgins said. "They are catering to a very select clientele who have strong philosophical views about how food is produced and they can afford those views."
He said the technology would drive down costs for both farmers and consumers.
Greenpeace's GM campaign leader, Laura Kelly, said the problem was families not having a choice about GM foods.
"Parents have a right to choose, particularly when it comes to GM, which has never been proven safe for kids to eat," she said.
The organisation is launching its True Food Guide 2011 on March 2, with information about more than 1000 foods and beverages and whether they contain GM ingredients.
Copyright 2011 News Limited.
GM Free Chefs Charter
For the first time, genetically modified (GM) food crops will be grown in Australia. From May 2008 in New South Wales and Victoria, GM canola will be grown commercially and will enter our food supply.
As chefs and restaurateurs we aim to protect the quality, diversity and the flavour of food we serve. To do so we need to be positive that what we put on plates represents the best Australia has to offer. To do otherwise is to risk not only the well being of our clientele, but also the well being of our nation.
Because of the untested long-term risks associated with the growing and consumption of GM foods, we are strongly opposed to serving them – or ingredients derived from GM products – in our restaurants.
Statistics reveal that the majority of Australians do not want to eat GM foods and over recent years we have seen our customers’ growing concern about the origins, ethical treatment and corporate control of food.
Canola is used in an extensive number of food products, ranging from breakfast cereals to oil and margarine to bread. Once GM canola is grown on Australian soil, it will find its way into our diet as canola oil and meal. Even worse, we will not know that we are eating food that contains GM canola, because under current laws it will remain unlabelled.
In the US and the EU, and across the world the great growth area is in clean, green food products. We believe that it is not wise to give up our global, unrestricted GM free marketing advantage, particularly when the long term implications of GM food manufacture and consumption are not yet known.
Only two state governments, New South Wales and Victoria, have lifted their moratoria on growing GM canola – all other canola growing states have committed to maintaining their moratoria on environmental, health and economic grounds. We encourage the New South Wales and Victorian governments to join the other states and reverse their position for the benefit of the nation.
In the meantime, it is imperative that the federal government legislates for the labelling of all GM foods and food products derived through GM. This is essential so that Australians can make clear decisions about whether to buy GM free ingredients or not. The labelling should include all vegetable oils, starches, sugars, colourings, produce made with canola, processing aids and additives, as well as animal feed. It should also include the labelling of meat from animals that have eaten GM feed.
We are committed to Australia’s GM free status so GM free food can be prepared and enjoyed without hesitation across the country, by all Australians.
Chefs signed up
Australian Capital Territory
Anthony Fullerton of Hotel Realm
Darren Perryman of First Floor Restaurant
Kyle Prowse of Sage
Darren Tetley of The Boat House by the Lake
New South Wales
Kimitaka Azuma of Azuma
Simon Bestley of Bathers' Pavillion
Massimo Bianchi of Buon Ricordo
Martin Boetz of Longrain Restaurant
Guillaume Brahimi of Guillaume at Bennelong
Kim Camelleri of Restaurant Sojourn
Paul Camelleri of Restaurant Sojourn
Andrew Cibej of Vini
David Clark of Two Front Doors Cafe
Francis Corby of Bamboo Organic Cafe
Serge Dansereau of Bathers’ Pavilion
Holly Davis, founder of Iku Wholefood
Claire de Lune of Slide
Peter Doyle of est. at Establishment Hotel
Colin Fassnidge of Four in Hand Hotel
Peter Gilmore of Quay Restaurant
Neil Gottheiner of Bondi's Brown Sugar
Bill Granger of bills
Prihaudini Hassan of Fish Face
Alex Herbert of Bird Cow Fish
Stephen Hodges of Fish Face
Ashley & Travey Hughes of Alio
Jared Ingersoll of Danks Street Depot
Jodie Jones of Sourcedining
Ajoy Joshi of Nilgiris
Carl Kenzler of Ritual Restaurant
James Kidman of Otto Ristorante
Peter Kuruvita of Flying Fish
Lee Kwiez of Milsons Restaurant
Kylie Kwong of Billy Kwong
Chui Lee Luk of Claude’s
Michael McEnearney of Rockpool
Paul McGrath of Bistro Ortolan
Christine Manfield of Universal Restaurant
Robert Marchetti of Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
James Metcalfe of Bécasse Restaurant
Mithiaki Miyakaki of Fish Face
Matthew Moran of ARIA Restaurant
Sean Moran of Sean’s Panaroma
Justin North of Bécasse Restaurant
Griff Pamment of Sean's Panaroma
Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo
Neil Perry of Rockpool
Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater
Dietmar Sawyere of Forty-One & Berowra Waters Inn
Veronica Stute of Strangers With Candy
Zac Sykes of Fish Face
Jeremy & Jane Strode of Bistrode
Maurice Terzini of Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Warren Turnbull of Assiette
Teresa Urlich of Bamboo Organic Cafe
Tetsuya Wakuda of Tetsuya's
Justin Wells of Strangers With Candy
Jimmy Shu of Hanuman Restaurant
Jerome Dalton of Dalton Hospitality
James Fien of Queensland Rugby Club Downtown
Scott Gibbs of Sodexho Prestige
Zeb Gilbert of Simple Pleasures Bistro and Bar
Nick Holloway of Nu Nu Restaurant
Paule Leete of Sails
Bruno Loubet of Baguette
Sinichi Maeda of Wasabi
David Pugh of Restaurant Two
David Rayner of River House
Sam Steck of Simple Pleasures Bistro and Bar
Kate von Bremen of Simple Pleasures Bistro and Bar
Carlos Astudillo of Botanic Café
Tony Carroll of Jolley's Boathouse
Aleksander Korcz of Lasseters Hotel Group
Cheong Liew of The Grange
Rachel McMillan of Scoop SA
Peter Reschke of D'Arry's Verandah Restaurant
Johnny Triscari of Chloe's Restaurant
Charlotte Boss-Walker of Sirens Restaurant
Steve Cumper of The Red Velvet Lounge
Thomas Dicker of Angasi
Barry Dickson of Sirens Restaurant
Jess Double of Moorilla
Paul Foreman of Marque IV
David Flukes of Moorilla
Adam Glyde of Moorilla
Mathew Griggs of Moorilla
Justin Harris of Moorilla
Fiona Hoskins of Fee and Me
Robin Klobusiak of The Ugly Duck Out
Andrew McKinlay of Moorilla
Duncan Marshall of Sirens Restaurant
Warren Martin of Moorilla
Scott Minervi of Lebrina Restaurant
Patrick Rutledge of Moorilla
Jon Sheridan of Sirens Restaurant
Stephanie Alexander of Stephanie's Restaurant
Marcus Allen of Interlude
Simon Arkless of Comme Kitchen
Michael Bacash of Bacash
Rod Barbey of B'coz
Martin Boetz of Longrain Restaurant
Dwayne Bourke of The Argo & Clunes Hotel
Robert Castellani of Donovan’s
Tony Chiodo, Eating Well Daily
Cath Claringbold, Burch & Purchese
Dallas Cuddy of Verge
Neil Cunningham of Healesville Hotel
Stefano de Pieri of Stefano's
Matt Dempsey of Pettavel Winery & Restaurant
Dur-é Dara of Nudel Bar
Elizabeth Egan of Becco
Teage Ezard of ezard and Gingerboy
Geraud Fabre of France-Soir
Guy Grossi of Grossi Florentino & Mirka at Tolarno Hotel
Sun Hyland of Sun Hyland Catering
Michael Lambie of Taxi Dining Room
Ann Lazarro of Pureharvest
Don Lazarro of Pureharvest
Sam Lynch of Original Foods
Andrew McConnell of Cumulus Inc
Matt McConnell of Bar Lourinha
Catherine McGlead of Source Cafe
Samantha Meadmore of Pancake Parlour
Stephan Melkonian of Organic Food Catering
Aron Michielli, Birichino
Luke Palmer of Fork to Fork
Scott Pickett of The Point
Darren Purchese, Burch & Purchese
Tobie Puttock of Fifteen Melbourne
Virginia Redmond of Cicciolina
Elizabeth Reid, TAFE Trade Teacher: Cookery
Patrice Repellins of Koots
Nicki Riemer of Trunk
Chris Rodriguez of Grossi Florentino
Daniel Schelbert of Cecconis Cantina
Ben Shewry of Attica
Annie Smithers of Annie Smithers Bistrot
James Stone of 100 Mile Cafe
Joseph Vargetto of Oyster Little Bourke
Matthew Wilkinson of Circa, The Prince
Paul Wilson of The Botanical
Alla Wolf Tasker of Lake House
Daniel Woollard of Il Solito Posto
Dany Angove of Leeuwin Estate Winery Restaurant
Russell Blaikie of Must Winebar
Aaron Carr of Vasse Felix
Chris Cheong of Must Winebar
David Coomer of Star Anise Restaurant
Matt Egan of Cullens Wines (Australia) Pty Ltd
Alain Fabregues MOF of Loose Box Restaurant
Don Hancey of Don Hancey Consulting
Tony Howell of Cape Lodge
Amanda Smith, Chef Lecturer at Margaret River Education Campus
Chris Taylor of Frasers Restaurant
Toan Tran at Padbury Restaurant and Cafe
Sophie Zalokar, Slow Food Southern Forests