Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Prince Charles in defence of the small farmers

Prince Charles, the future King of Australia, has hit out again. To no one’s surprise he, the organic farmer, dislikes genetically manipulated (GM) food. Being no politician he can speak out freely and call it what it is: "a gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong". Relying on "gigantic corporations" for food, he said, would result in "absolute disaster".

"That would be the absolute destruction of everything... and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future," he said.

"What we should be talking about is food security not food production - that is what matters and that is what people will not understand. And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time."

Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of "gigantic corporations" taking over the mass production of food.

The interview was given to The Daily Telegraph and was partly reported by The Age.

More Australian Context
Australia’s future King also refers to his realm: "Look at Western Australia," he said. "Huge salinisation problems. I have been there, seen it — some of the excessive approaches to modern forms of agriculture.

"If you are not working with natural assistance you cause untold problems, which become very expensive and very difficult to undo. It places impossible burdens on nature and leads to accumulating problems which become more difficult to sort out," he said according to The Age.

Prince Charles’ remarks are highly welcome in Australia. Victoria’s Labor government removed the four-year ban on growing genetically manipulated canola in November 2007 despite resistence in the Labor caucus. Premier John Brumby ignored the opposition of “about half of Labor’s 74 MPs” (The Age 27 Nov. 2007): “This is Brumby’s arrogance and cash-through style at play here, said a Labor MP who declined to be named. “He’s good at numbers but he can’t read people.” My local Labor MP to whom I wrote to ask her if she was among the opponents of GM crops did not reply to my letter. I can only assume, that she is supporting Mr. Brumby. Well, Ms. Barker, food lovers cannot support you in the future.

Australia is worse off than other countries, especially the EU, since there is no labelling of GM ingredients in food products. With Labor in power nationally as well as in all states you would have thought, protecting “Australian working families” would be a priority, but you’re wrong. It is still business that is protected by Labor. Why is it possible that food producers in the EU can include information on GM content in their nutritional information - and in Australia that is too difficult? Or too risky?

Good to have the heir to the throne who speaks out against GM food.

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