Beattie declared a 'Bio-hazard' GE Quarantine area at Parliament House!

June 25, 2001

Friends of the Earth have declared Premier Peter Beattie a "BIOHAZARD" today, creating a quarantine area around him at parliament house, immediately prior to his departure for the bio2001 conference in San Diego.

Peter Beattie is leaving today to attend the Bio2001 conference in San Diego, in order to attract foreign capital investment into the Queensland genetic engineering industry. The development of the genetic engineering industry is a key part of the Premier's vision for Queensland as a "Smart State".

However, Friends of the Earth (FoE) are asking: What is so "Smart" about Genetic Pollution? Activists wearing bio-hazard safety suits today quarantined Parliament House where Peter Beattie was holding a press conference prior to his departure to Bio2001.

"The protest was drawing attention to the risks of Genetic Pollution and the obvious contradictions within the Smart State rhetoric", said, FoE sustainability campaigner,  John Hepburn.

"On the one hand, the Government is promoting the clean, green image of Queensland agricultural produce to export markets, while on the other, Peter Beattie is encouraging the development (and therefore release) of Genetically Engineered (GE) food crops which pose massive environmental and economic risks due to genetic pollution."

"The US organics federation have declared that no corn or soya grown in the USA can be guaranteed to be organic or GE free due to cross pollination from Genetically Engineered crops. There have been many cases where export crops have been denied market access due to GE ( or potential GE) contamination."

"On the other hand, the organics industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world - estimated to be growing at 20% to 50% per annum. Australia is strategically placed to cater for this growing local and international demand for organic GE free food. 30% of European agriculture is expected to be under certified organic production by 2010 in order to meet changing consumer demand and to help guarantee more environmentally sustainable farming practices in contrast to Genetically Engineered industrial agriculture."

"Given the massive environmental problems facing Queensland agriculture, we need to be shifting towards more sustainable, organic production rather than further intensifying industrial agriculture."

"The Premier's trip to the Bio2001 conference to attract Genetic Engineering investment and the use of public money to support the development of a GE food industry in Queensland is inappropriate. The risks of genetic pollution have the potential to undermine one of our fastest growing industries, as well as unleashing unpredictable environmental problems. It doesn¹t make economic sense and it doesn¹t make environmental sense. Basically, there¹s nothing "Smart" about GE food." Mr Hepburn concluded.

For further information contact:

John Hepburn
Ph (07) 3846 5793
E mail: foebrisbane@uq.net.au