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Genetically modified animal feed study results due mid-2010

Published on 1 January, 2010, Last updated at 01:01 GMT
Genetically modified animal feed study results due mid-2010

Australia - The results of a controversial animal feeding study on genetically modified crops are expected to be made public by the middle of next year.

The $92,000 study was commissioned by the previous State Government in 2005 and funded in 2007.

However, the change of State Government last year left several unanswered questions for new Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman to explore in regards to the study's progress.

In particular, Mr Redman is concerned about the difference in communication afforded to his office on the study, compared to that of his Labor predecessor Kim Chance.

Agricultural Region MLC Brian Ellis raised questions in Parliament last month about the study's tendering protocol and taxpayer accountability.

Edstar Genetics principal Ian Edwards, a member of Mr Chance's GMO Reference Group, also weighed into the debate calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the feeding trial's whereabouts.

In contrast, Shadow Labor Agriculture Minister Mick Murray has declined to comment on the issue.

However, the study's proponent, Judy Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER) in Adelaide, cleared the air last week, sending a letter to the Agriculture and Food Department.

Dr Carman said a feeding study had been undertaken and data was being analysed and written up, saying the WA Government had nothing to worry about.

"The Board of IHER has now met and wishes to inform you of the following," the letter said.

"A long-term feeding study has been undertaken.

"The entire grant of money has been committed for expenditure.

"Data from the feeding study is being analysed for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

"The precise date of publication is not under our control but we expect that results will be published in the first half of 2010.

"The WA Government has previously been provided with a copy of the research methodology and as agreed, the methodology will be made public with the results when the results are published.

"As we said in our previous correspondence dated October 26, 2009, we will be pleased to fully brief the Minister on the outcomes and implications of the research once the results have been analysed and published."

Dr Carman said the study would most likely be published towards the end of the estimated period.

She said proper research took time and could not be hurried to fit a political schedule.

"Where and how we have spent the money will be apparent when the materials and methods section is written and then published in the peer-reviewed paper for everyone to see," she said.

Dr Carman said the WA Government was not the only "funder" of the research work.

The study has also received funding from companies and donations from "mums and dads", to help meet the extra costs from doing research in the US, she said.

Dr Carman said the main delay to the research came from the difficulty with getting hold of GM material to test.

"GM companies usually forbid independent research on GM seeds purchased from them and prohibit farmers from giving GM seeds to researchers, which delayed our research for years," she said.

Source: FarmWeekly


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