Originally published August 10 2014
GM poppies and the pharmaceutical industry threaten Tasmania's image of clean, green agriculture
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) Just 150 miles south of Australia lies the island of Tasmania, one of the few agricultural hotspots in the world not yet tainted by genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, if the powerful GM lobby and pharmaceutical industry has its way this year, GMOs may ride in, tainting Tasmania's clean, green image.
Over a decade ago, genetically modified organisms were banned from the island after GM canola drifted from test fields and contaminated other fields. Today, Tasmania represents organic agriculture, from the way it produces beef to the way it harvests poppies. For instance, on the island's northwest corner stands Tasmanian Alkaloids, a factory that produces 80 percent of the world's thebaine poppies. Their value would plummet in the presence of GMO contamination. Likewise, the island exports some of the most pristine organic beef to Japan from feedlots that do not use GMO animal feed. Up to 11,000 cattle at the Tasmania Feedlot help feed Japanese markets year-round, representing sustainable, non-GMO practices.
"They're looking for a very safe product, and a very consistent product," said the feedlot's Managing Director Andrew Thompson.
"GM is one of the main factors, along with no use of hormone growth promotants," he added. "We've got this great reputation of being safe and clean and I think we've got to enhance that into the future."
Pharmaceutical industry looking to expand and produce GMO poppies on Tasmania's clean, green agricultural landscapeRight now, the island's population, just over a half-million people, enjoy one of the cleanest places on Earth. The state's government plans to protect this serenity by extending the ban on GMOs. That all could change if a powerful pharmaceutical industry gets its way. The island's isolation and rugged wilderness could be carved up by a demanding GMO industry looking to expand its control with GM poppies.
The introduction of genetically modified poppies onto the island of Tasmania would represent a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, allowing expansion of opiates for increased painkiller manufacturing. The competition of GM poppies could threaten the natural poppy industry itself, replacing organic farming methods with environmentally threatening methods including new pesticides. Also, how might these genetic alterations to the poppies change the very nature of the painkiller drugs? As global demand for painkillers increases, the pressure to adopt cheap GM poppy on the island could be inevitable.
UN figures show that demand for pain relief more than tripled between 1993 and 2012 across the world, with demand growing steadily since then.
Introducing GMOs on Tasmania would reduce biodiversity and devalue niche industries, including precious honeyThe quality of the island's niche producers of wasabi, lavender, honey and wine would wane in the presence of an all-powerful GM poppy industry. The biodiversity on the island could very easily suffer. With the quality of these crops being contaminated, these niche natural industries will easily be overrun, as their prices plummet. Currently, honey on the island of Tasmania goes for prices at least 40 percent more than mainland honey. If GMOs are allowed onto the island, then the price of the honey would drop, as its quality is devalued by GMO contamination.
As the third-largest exporter of beef and the fourth-largest wheat exporter in the world, Australia's decision to adopt GM poppies could forever shape the condition of their environment and the people who control the agriculture. Allowing GM poppies would most assuredly drive away the quality and value of the biodiversity on their land, ultimately allowing centralization of agricultural power in the hands of seed patent holders and seed scientists.
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