National Food Plan a disaster for safe, secure, local food

27 September 2012

The Australian Government's National Food Plan promotes markets, trade and exports in unprocessed bulk commodities that are not value-added here - grain, animals and fibre. It ignores the needs of Australians for rewarding jobs in a food system that should supply local, fresh, minimally processed and health-giving foods as its first priority.

Gene Ethics will comment on the NFP Green Paper, due Sunday, that government should not have already committed in advance to genetically manipulated (GM) crops and foods.

 "The NFP serves the vested interests of huge seed, agrichemical, agribusiness, transport, research, commodity trade and handling, processing, and retailing industries that are increasingly dominated by a small cartel of global foreign corporations," says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

"The government sellout is unsurprising as the Minister's advisory committee is stacked with the organisations that will benefit most, while the processes of public comment and consultation are a farce.

"The rhetoric that Australia has a responsibility, capability and will prosper from sending raw bulk commodities to feed the world is just window-dressing for these corporations to maximise their profits. It's a new version of the outdated concept of Australia riding on the sheep's back.

"The plan also fully commits the Government, without public discussion, to continue to research, develop and promote Genetically Manipulated (GM) crops and the sale of their products without any truthful labelling.

"Government will deny shoppers the right to know, with food labels which do not disclose that new and dangerous GM, irradiation and nano-material technologies are used in the food supply. This serves the same interests that want to patent, own and control everything from seed to spoon.

"The companies will also profit from dishonest labelling that totally misrepresents the origin and nature of our food supply so that shoppers are disempowered, confused and unable to spend food dollars to support the Australian food system.

"If present rapid declines in horticulture, market-gardening, dairy and food processing continue, Australians will soon depend almost entirely on food imports from everywhere else on Earth.

"The government's ideology, that no country should seek to be self-sufficient in food, is leading us to where we will be unable to feed ourselves and leave Australians at the mercy of global suppliers and their bottom lines.

"We need a smooth transition to sustainable low-input, ecological farming systems, to permanently and securely feed us and future generations. High input industrial farms must change as oil and phosphates are depleted, water and good arable soils become scarcer, and the climate changes.

"Gene Ethics calls on the Minister to go back to the drawing board, to create a National Food Plan that puts the health, wellbeing and sustenance of Australians at the forefront," Mr Phelps concludes.

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