Australia to have Weak Economic Growth

August 17, 2011

SIGNS that Australia is headed for its weakest patch of economic growth in two years are increasing, driven by consumer and business caution, higher savings rates, rising unemployment and a weak building sector.

The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future, was at 1.6 per cent in June, below its long-term trend of three per cent.

It was the second month in the row that the index has printed at 1.6 per cent, after slumping to the low level in May from 2.7 per cent in April.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said weak growth in consumer spending, higher savings rates and weakness in residential and non-residential building would contribute to below trend growth for the rest of 2011.

Westpac expected an annualised growth rate of 2.5 per cent in the second half of 2011, he said.

Mining investment would remain strong, but there was likely to be some correction to the investment plans of firms servicing the non-mining sectors.

“The growth rate in the index has steadily fallen from its peak in this cycle of 9.5 per cent in March 2010,” Mr Evans said.

“This is now the lowest growth rate for the index since August 2009.”

Westpac expected unemployment to rise to 5.5 per cent in the first half of 2012, Mr Evans said.

“With governments consolidating fiscally and households and firms deleveraging, and relative prices changing, economic activity is being diverted away from services and manufacturing to mining and mining construction, which are not intensive users of labour,” he said.

The growth rate of the Leading Index has slowed over the past six months, from 3.3 per cent to 1.6 per cent.

Mr Evans said key downside factors were a fall in real money supply (down 0.7 per cent), dwelling approvals (-3.5 per cent) and the S&P All Ordinaries Index (-2.1 per cent).

Growth in the Coincident Index, which measures current economic activity, was 0.1 per cent, below its long-term trend of 2.8 per cent.

That was due to a slump in retail trade, the slowdown in employment and the disruption to production in the first quarter of 2011 due to flooding in Queensland.

Mr Evans said evidence was emerging to support his view that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) would cut rates by 25 basis points by the end of the year.

However, he said, further evidence that inflation risks had receded would be necessary before the RBA made a case to cut rates.

Top Chefs: End GMO Trials, Production

Leading chefs Neil Perry and Martin Boetz have launched a major public attack against the development of genetically modified food in Australia.

July 19, 2011

Chef Neil Perry

In a column that appeared today on The National Times website, Perry and Boetz urge the Australian government to “put a stop” to GM wheat trials.

“We are disturbed by the prospect that Australia could become one of the first countries to grow and eat genetically modified wheat,” they say in the column.

“Wheat is a fundamental part of our daily diet, the basis of bread, pasta, noodles, pastries and many other foods.”

“Whether or not you agree with its methods, Greenpeace’s destruction of the GM wheat from a CSIRO trial site just outside Canberra last week has stirred up the debate. And the state of our food – and the ways it is produced its a debated worth having.”

“The CSIRO claims its experimental GM wheat could help reduce bowel cancer rates because of more “resistant starch which is good for digestive health. Encouraging more people to eat more brown bread, rice and oats would seem eminently safer and more sensible and affordable.

“Even more troubling is the fact that GM plants have never been proven safe to eat.”

Genetically modified wheat has no place on the menu

We are proud to be two of Australia’s leading chefs and food industry spokesmen. Making and serving fresh and tasty food is a great pleasure for us. We have built our lives and careers around this passion.

But we are disturbed by the prospect that Australia may become one of the first countries in the world to grow and eat genetically modified wheat. Wheat is a fundamental part of our daily diet, the basis of bread, pasta, noodles, pastries and many other foods.

Whether or not you agree with its methods, Greenpeace’s destruction of GM wheat from a CSIRO trial site just outside Canberra last week has stirred up the debate. And the state of our food – and the ways it is produced – is a debate worth having.

The integrity of our food is continually being depleted by the demands of a fast-paced modern lifestyle. Our relationship with food is generally an unhealthy one. Agri-food manufacturers play on people’s time poverty to sell ultra-processed fast foods full of salt, sugar, highly refined carbohydrates, additives and preservatives. These foods have nothing in common with the fresh fruit and vegetables and whole cereals that should make up the bulk of a healthy diet.

The CSIRO claims its experimental GM wheat could help reduce bowel cancer rates because of more ”resistant starch”, which is good for digestive health. Encouraging people to eat more brown bread, rice and oats would seem eminently safer and more sensible and affordable. And this can be done without turning to GM crops, which we consider to be unsafe. But of course that’s not attractive to big international biotech firms that see a commercial advantage in GM crops.

The CSIRO and the Australian government are contradicting their own health advice that people should eat more wholegrains and a more varied diet. If people carry on eating the same kind of processed foods, drained of all the nutrients and life-giving energy we need, we can expect health problems to continue. GM wheat won’t help this; the likelihood is it will only increase the amount of unnatural, processed food on supermarket shelves.

Even more troubling is the fact that GM plants have never been proven safe to eat. Through trial and error over many thousands of years, we have found what we can eat for health and nourishment and what we must stay away from.

New forms of food such as GM wheat have never been tested for safety. They have not undergone the kind of trial and error that all our naturally occurring foods have over thousands of years of being consumed – they are a whole new form of genetically modified life. And they have not been through the kind of safety testing demanded of new pharmaceutical products.

Food is a fundamental part of life. Protecting the integrity of our food and the reliability of our food supply is critical. We must ask what kind of world we are building for ourselves and for our children where we would prefer to spend billions of dollars creating unnecessary and risky genetically modified products, rather than following our grandmothers and mothers’ advice of simply eating a balanced diet.

In a few generations our food and farming systems have been radically transformed. Once based around nature and human need, they are now controlled by corporations, from seed to supermarket, for the purpose of profit.

The menus in our restaurants, like those of other restaurants, cafes and family kitchens all around the country, feature wheat products such as bread and pastry every day. GM wheat will jeopardise our capacity to serve wholesome food we can rely on.

As leading chefs in Australia, we will stop using wheat products if GM becomes prevalent, or we will exclusively use certified organic wheat.

Australia’s reputation as one of the best food producers and places to eat in the world is at risk. We are urging the Australian government to stop risking Australia’s food industry and to put a stop to GM wheat trials.

Neil Perry is the owner of Spice Temple and The Waiting Room in Melbourne, and Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney and Perth. Martin Boetz is the owner and executive chef at Longrain restaurants in Melbourne and Perth. Both are signatories to Greenpeace’s Chef’s Charter, which aims to protect the quality and diversity of Australia’s food.

CSIRO Iniciará Experimentos com Trigo Transgênico em Humanos

ABC News
Tradução Luis R. Miranda
1 de julho de 2011

CSIRO tem sido autorizada para conduzir os primeiros experimentos com trigo geneticamente modificado em humanos. A empresa obteve a autorização na Austrália.

Genes do trigo foram modificados para reduzir o índice glicêmico e aumentar a fibra para criar um produto que irá melhorar a saúde intestinal e aumentar o valor nutricional, indica a empresa.

Pela primeira vez, este produto transgénicos está sendo cultivado em ensaios ao ar livre no ACT.

Matthew Morell, funcionário da CISRO diz que a empresa já experimento com animais realizando ensaios de até três meses.

“Tendo como base estes experimentos com animais, gostaríamos de passar para humanos”, disse ele.

Dr. Morell acredita este e o primeiro do tipo com trigo transgénico. Nenhum tipo de trigo geneticamente modificado foi aprovado para cultivo na Austrália.

“Na Austrália, esse seria o caso”, disse ele. “Internacionalmente, eu não estou ciente de quaisquer outros.”

Mas Laura Kelly da Greenpeace diz que deveria haver experimentos de alimentação animal por pelo menos dois anos.

“Você pode ver que eles não têm intenção de testar os efeitos negativos para a saúde devido ao curto período de tempo dos experimentos e como eles querem usar esse material para as pessoas”, disse ela.

CSIRO desenvolveu as linhas de trigo em uma parceria que inclui a maior empresa de grãos da Europa chamada Limagrain.

Os experimentos humanos começaram em seis meses.

CSIRO Iniciará Ensayos con Trigo Transgénico en Humanos

ABC News
Adaptación Luis R. Miranda
24 de junio 2011

CSIRO ha recibido permiso para llevar a cabo el primer ensayo con trigo transgénico en humanos. Tal permiso fue obtenido en Australia, en donde la empresa ya había realizado otros ensayos con animales a los cuales también alimentó con trigo genéticamente modificado.

“Los genes del trigo se han modificado para reducir el índice glucémico y aumentar la fibra para crear un producto que va a mejorar la salud intestinal y aumentar el valor nutricional,” dice CSIRO

Es la primera vez que se hacen ensayos al aire libre en el ACT.

El doctor Mateo Morell, funcionario de CSIRO, dijo que los ensayos de alimentación animal duraron tres meses y que debido a los resultados obtenidos, la empresa tiene la intención de usar humanos como conejillos de indias.

“Debido al éxito obtenido en los experimentos con animales es que deseamos comenzar los experimentos en seres humanos”, dijo.

El Dr. Morell cree sus experimentos son los primeros a realizarse con trigo transgénico. No hay variedad de trigo genéticamente modificado que haya sido aprobado para su cultivo en Australia.

“En Australia, este sería el caso”, dijo. “A nivel internacional, no estoy al tanto de los demás.”

Sin embargo, Laura Kelly de Greenpeace dice que deberían haber ensayos de alimentación animal de por lo menos dos años.

“Se puede ver que no tienen intención de probar los efectos negativos para la salud de debido al corto periodo durante el cual se analizaron los efectos del trigo transgénico. Ahora quieren alimentar a la gente con este producto”, dijo.

CSIRO ha desarrollado líneas de trigo en una alianza que incluye a la más grande compañía de granos de Europa, conocida como Limagrain.

Los ensayos en humanos comenzarán en unos seis meses.

CSIRO to Start Human GMO Trials

ABC News
June 24, 2011

The CSIRO has been given permission to conduct Australia’s first trial in which humans will eat genetically modified wheat.

The wheat’s genes have been modified to lower the glycemic index and increase fibre to create a product which will improve bowel health and increase nutritional value.

For the first time, it is being grown in outdoor trials in the ACT.

The CSIRO’s Matthew Morell say animal feeding trials of up the three months have been done.

“Subject to that being successful we would move onto humans,” he said.

Dr Morell believes its a first for GM wheat. No genetically modified wheat strain has ever been approved for cropping in Australia.

“In Australia, that would be the case,” he said. “Internationally, I’m not aware of any others.”

But Laura Kelly from Greenpeace says there should be animal feeding trials for at least two years.

“You can see that they have no intention to test for negative health effects by just how short the time period is that they’re feeding this stuff to people,” she said.

The CSIRO has developed the wheat lines in a partnership which includes Europe’s largest grain company Limagrain.

The human trials are at least six months away.