Sunday, October 25, 2015
Australian Greens panicking over nanoparticles in food
This is typical of the way Greenies seize on low probability events and magnify them. There are some theoretical grounds for seeing nanoparticles as physically hazardous if breathed in but you don't breathe food in, you eat it. And the nano particles concerned are chemically the same as their equivalent larger particles so it is difficult to see different chemical effects from them
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand for many years claimed it was "not aware" and there was "little evidence" of manufactured nanoparticles in food because no company had applied for approval.
But in a Senate estimates hearing this week, FSANZ's chief executive Steve McCutcheon said it had known for years nanoparticles of approved food additives titanium dioxide and silica were in foods.
He said FSANZ commissioned a toxicology report a year ago, and is expecting to soon receive the results.
He said the regulator was talking about "new or novel" nanoparticles when it previously claimed it was not aware of its use in Australia's food stream.
"If [companies] start applying nanotechnology – including on approved food additives – and they start producing different effects, then they have an obligation under law to bring that forward to FSANZ for assessment," he said. "[Nano-titanium dioxide and nano-silica] are not novel compounds because they're [nanoparticles of] approved additives."
At the hearing, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert asked whether he was certain the two nanoparticles were not further manipulated to carry "new or novel" properties.
"We won't know until we've seen the (toxicology) report," he responded. "We can't guarantee anything, I mean, we're a food standards agency, we don't go testing, we haven't got those powers and so we rely on evidence gathered both here and around the world."
Fairfax Media exclusively reported last month that research commissioned by Friends of the Earth found potentially harmful nanoparticles in 14 popular products, including Mars' M&Ms, Woolworths white sauce and Praise salad dressing.
A human hair is about 100,000 nanometres wide. Nanoparticles are typically less than 100 nanometres. Nano-titanium dioxide boosts the whiteness in food and nano-silica is an anti-caking agent. Neither must be labelled on packaging as "nano".
Ms Siewert told Fairfax Media that FSANZ did not know whether the nanoparticles were being further modified to obtain "new or novel" properties, making them potentially unsafe to eat.
"The manufacturers are putting that in the product to have an effect. Otherwise, why bother? So FSANZ is finally saying, 'Oh, we should have a look at that... we should review those'," she said.
Under questioning, Mr McCutcheon said about 15 per cent of food-grade titanium dioxide and silica was made up of nanoparticles.
But 100 per cent of the silica in Nice 'N' Tasty Chicken Salt, Old El Paso Taco Mix, Moccona Cappuccino, Nestlé Coffee Mate Creamer, Maggi Roast Meat Gravy, and Woolworths Homebrand White Sauce were made up of nanoparticles, the Friends of the Earth research found.
"If we use their view that above 15 per cent nanoparticles is intentional, then only two out of 14 samples weren't intentionally using nanoparticles," said the group's emerging tech campaigner, Jeremy Tager.
"They also seem to be inferring that because titanium dioxide and silica have been approved as food additives, the nano forms are also safe. This directly contradicts the findings of regulators in Europe and FSANZ's sister agency the APVMA who have made it clear the safety of nanomaterials can't be inferred from bulk particles of the same chemicals."
Mr Tager said if FSANZ had commissioned a toxicology report, the products should not be on the market until they are proven safe.
Leading risk expert Andrew Maynard, from Arizona State University, said there were a small number of studies indicating nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and fumed silica could be more active in the body than otherwise thought.
"This does not mean that there is a significant risk to consumers. It may be the safety assessment moves from extremely safe to very safe, but we won't know until a lot more research has been done. This research is important, as people are being exposed to these materials," he said.
FSANZ has previously told federal parliament it was not aware of nanomaterials being used in food. It said it had not conducted testing or surveyed food makers and importers to determine whether nanoparticles were in food.
Teen arrested along with terror suspect freed on bail 'because he faces bigger risk of being radicalised INSIDE jail
A teenager who admitted importing hundreds of weapons from China has been released on bail after a Victorian judge heard he was at risk of radicalisation in prison.
Mehmet Azami, 19, had previously been linked to an alleged Anzac Day terror plot targeting police, but prosecutors told the County Court of Victoria he had no knowledge of the alleged plan.
Federal police in April opposed an initial bail application by Azami on the grounds he posed an unacceptable risk to the community.
But on Thursday they said the greater risk was he would become radicalised in custody.
'The concern is he's at greater risk of radicalisation and declining mental health in custody,' Detective Acting Sergeant Adam Folley told a pre-sentence hearing.
Prosecutor Andrew Doyle said Azami had imported 332 weapons, but only came to the attention of a counter-terrorism task force because he was recorded having a phone conversation with Harun Causevic, 18.
Causevic, Azami and Sevdet Besim, 18, of Hallam, were arrested on April 18 in pre-dawn counter terrorism raids.
Besim is the only one who faces a terror charge after charges against Causevic were dropped. Azami was never charged with terror offences.
'There's no evidence to indicate that the offender had any knowledge of the alleged intended actions of Mr Besim,' Mr Doyle said.
Lawyer Charlie Atlas, for Azami, told Judge Roy Punshon the teenager had no prior convictions and had 'fallen into' crime.
Mr Atlas said Azami had already served almost six months and called for a corrections or supervision order when the teenager is sentenced. 'He's effectively done his time on remand,' Mr Atlas said. 'He now deserves his chance at rehabilitation.'
Judge Punshon granted bail to Azami, who will return to court on December 15.
It comes amid recent reports ISIS-inspired extremists are preaching hate in some of Australia's toughest prisons.
According to The Daily Telegraph, at least 30 gang members residing in Goulburn jail in NSW, have engaged in warfare against 'infidel' that oppose their religious ideologies.
Home to Supermax, Goulburn jail houses some of Australia's most infamous and dangerous criminals.
Last month, a 'Lebanese' yard was reportedly made exclusively Muslim, with prison guards relocating all males who didn't identify as Islamic.
'Word on the street was most in that yard (had been radicalised) and they were going to take a hostage - one of the six Christians in the yard - and behead them,' a prison guard told The Daily Telegraph.
Labor racism won't play
At a forum earlier this year, a prominent Leftist economic commentator outlined his greatest fear that as the economy soured, politicians would shift the blame by reverting to the slogans and stereotypes of the White Australia era.
My response was that the notion of racism lurking latent in the nation's soul, ripe for electoral exploitation, did not match contemporary social and political reality. Diversity was not just a social phenomenon born of decades of non-discriminatory immigration policy.
More importantly, it was a family reality for millions of ordinary Australians who -- due to the high levels of intermarriage between different ethnic groups -- recoil from anti-immigrant sentiments promoting prejudice against family members.
I have been thinking about the commentator's statement after viewing the television ad produced by the Victorian Liberal Party criticizing the union opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
The ad depicts a typical Australian -- and typically ethnically diverse -- suburban family. As Fairfax reported earlier this month, it shows an "Australian man on the couch with his arm around his Chinese girlfriend" while watching "union attack ads on TV with the man's parents."
When the girlfriend says that she didn't think Australians were racist, she is reassured by the mother that this is correct, and the father blames the Labor politicians who haven't stopped "some unions" from running a dog-whistle anti-Chinese campaign. It ends with the slogan: "Free trade is good for Australian jobs".
I take great heart from this ad that the days of White Australia are long behind us.
A century ago, politicians from all sides of politics strongly endorsed anti-Chinese and Protectionist sentiments - because there were lots of votes to be won by backing a White Australia. But times, attitudes, and Australian society have changed. Today, recalcitrant unions are called out as racist for endorsing throwback ideas that are no longer in tune with mainstream values.
Fears that politicians will resort to playing the race card are indeed exaggerated -- as is illustrated this week by the Federal Labor Party's capitulation on the ChAFTA deal. The racism of earlier times will simply not play politically in contemporary Australia for the simple reason that this is genuinely offensive to millions of Australian voters.
Same-sex push not about raising adoptions
The push by Victoria's Andrews government to force Catholic adoptions agencies to comply with its proposed same-sex adoption reforms is hardly about boosting the number of adoptions.
Adoption is meant to form new families for children who can't live with their birth parents. But adoption is very rare in Australia despite there being many children who could be adopted.
Last year were just 89 adoptions nationally from care - 84 of which were in NSW - despite more than 43,000 children living in care across the country. That's because adoption is taboo.
Instead of boosting adoptions, the Andrews government seems determined to use reform of the Adoption Act 1988 as a stalking horse for the anti-religion agenda of secular progressives.
That's why the Bill before Parliament also amends the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to eliminate protections for religious freedom and freedom of conscience in relation to adoption.
Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, says the reforms would force Catholic adoption agencies to choose between Catholic teaching or breaking the law.
But Minister for Equality Matthew Foley is unmoved. "Equality is not negotiable," he said. Apparently, both the Anglican and Uniting Churches in Victoria agree, and are supporting the proposed reforms -- thereby leaving their sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church high and dry.
Victorian Catholics had been hoping to win the same exemptions granted by the Keneally Government In 2010 when NSW legalised same-sex adoptions.
Linda Burney, former NSW Minister for Community Services, stated that faith-based organisations are "an integral part of our pluralist society and provide stability, security and guidance to many."
Ms Burney also affirmed same-sex couples continue to adopt children through NSW Community Services and Barnados.
The Victorian government is not so generous to faith-based organisations. Rather than risk violating the law, the most likely outcome of is that Catholic adoption agencies will close their doors for good.
Yet given the negligible numbers of adoptions in Victoria, it is hard to believe that the government's real concern is with securing the rights of same-sex couples to adopt through CatholicCare.
If it was, it would devote its energies to pursuing reform of its anti-adoption policies rather than corrupting the long-standing balance between the rule of law and freedom of religion.