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Minister explains reluctance to eat GM

05 June 2005

- Hon KIM CHANCE: ... "The short reason is that almost no trials have been undertaken of the health effects on mammals of eating GM food. No long-term trials have been done. Some of our assumptions, for example, that DNA is entirely destroyed by its passage through a mammalís elementary tract, have been proved wrong. We now know that DNA can pass through the abdominal system of bovine animals and enter the blood stream and the muscle structure. Even if we eat a steak, which comes from an animal that eats GM corn, the DNA and its promoters can be picked up in the steak. When humans eat DNA, they become walking laboratory rats because nobody has carried out those trials. Nobody knows with any confidence its effects on human health."

House: Legislative Council- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Date:

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Page: 1213c - 1214a / 1

GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD, COMMENTS BY MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY
213. Hon PADDY EMBRY to the Minister for Agriculture and Forestry:

The minister was reported as stating that he would not knowingly eat genetically engineered food.

(1) Was he correctly reported?

(2) If so, will he explain to the house why he would not knowingly eat genetically engineered food?

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Leader of the House may answer the first part, but he might like to make the second part a ministerial statement!

Hon KIM CHANCE replied:

I will be brief.

(1)-(2) Yes, indeed. I was very happy with the report under the by-line of Eloise Dortch. I thought she grasped some complicated processes extremely well; she reported me entirely accurately. In a sense, the reason I would not choose to eat GM food - I did say that I would rather eat it than starve; there is a limit to my exclusion -

Hon Peter Foss: What about getting thin?

Hon KIM CHANCE: I would rather not starve! I am reluctant to eat GM food, particularly of an unrefined nature - I made a clear distinction about refined oil; I would be less concerned about refined canola oil - because when we eat raw food such as cereals, we consume the DNA and its promoters that have been inserted into the DNA. The short reason is that almost no trials have been undertaken of the health effects on mammals of eating GM food. No long-term trials have been done. Some of our assumptions, for example, that DNA is entirely destroyed by its passage through a mammalís elementary tract, have been proved wrong. We now know that DNA can pass through the abdominal system of bovine animals and enter the blood stream and the muscle structure. Even if we eat a steak, which comes from an animal that eats GM corn, the DNA and its promoters can be picked up in the steak. When humans eat DNA, they become walking laboratory rats because nobody has carried out those trials. Nobody knows with any confidence its effects on human health. Members might think this is a bit odd coming from an overweight smoker!

Hon Ken Travers: A former overweight smoker.

Hon KIM CHANCE: A somewhat overweight smoker. So much uncertainty surrounds this field that caution is necessary. Let us not take a step that we do not have to take. The world does not need GM food just yet. Given their knowledge of agriculture, I think everyone in this room accepts that although there is starvation in the world that starvation has nothing to do with agriculture; it has everything to do with finance.


Source:  WA Parliamentary Hansards (here)

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