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2-Plants: Australian farmers reject Federal Govt GM canola riskmanagement plans



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Farmers reject Federal Govt GM canola risk management plans
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
        http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=253
DATE:   April 1, 2003

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Farmers reject Federal Govt GM canola risk management plans

- "This RARMP does not consider the costs to farmers and the potential
loss of markets. The refusal of the OGTR to assess the economic impact on
Australian farmers is negligent as the OGTR can choose to include it in
the assessment," Mrs Julie Newman, farmer, Newdegate, WA and NCF member said.

- "The OGTR is prepared to accept the GM crop management plans of the
product provider which means that the non-GM farmer may be required to
destroy the first five metres of their crop as a buffer zone to prevent
contamination. This is not addressing the problem but adding to the
problem," she said.

- Our Network will be urging farmers to speak up and reject the Risk
Assessment and Risk Management Plan (open for comment until 26 May 2003)
and make the government accountable. Once GM canola is released it cannot
be recalled from the environment. We're being sold out for promises with
minimal, beneficial returns and a product that dominates the natural
environment," Mr Kinnear said.

FARMERS REJECT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S BAYER GM CANOLA RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN

Nationally 1 April 2003: The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) rejected
the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) for the Bayer
CropScience (formerly Aventis) application for the release of Genetically
Modified (GM) canola issued today by the Office of Gene Technology
Regulator (OGTR).

"This RARMP does not consider the costs to farmers and the potential loss
of markets. The refusal of the OGTR to assess the economic impact on
Australian farmers is negligent as the OGTR can choose to include it in
the assessment," Mrs Julie Newman, farmer, Newdegate, WA and NCF member said.

"The cost to farmers of segregating grain under a coexistence system is
estimated to be at least 10% of the product value (AFFA Productivity
Report 2002). These costs plus liability issues where a farmer must
guarantee that there is no GM contamination in their grain will
effectively force farmers to market as GM to remain viable," she said.

"The OGTR is prepared to accept the GM crop management plans of the
product provider which means that the non-GM farmer may be required to
destroy the first five metres of their crop as a buffer zone to prevent
contamination. This is not addressing the problem but adding to the
problem," she said.

"How can the OGTR claim there is no health or environmental issue with
the release GM canola when the chemicals planned for use on these crops
have not yet gained approval for use by the National Registration
authority?" Mrs Newman said.

Mr Sam Statham, a NSW NCF member explained that the Canadian and American
grain belts demonstrate that once GM canola is released, it is the
dominant gene in the natural environment and GM free grain growing
rapidly declines, as herbicide resistant volunteers start to dominate non
GM crops. "The pro-GM lobby says that farmers seeking to protect their
rights are denying farmers choice, but what choice exists for farmers
wishing to grow GM free crops, five years after the GM canola release?"
Mr Statham said.

Mr Scott Kinnear, VFF and NCF member said, "It's extraordinary that the
Risk Assessment of the release of GM canola not only fails to assess
economic and social impacts but fails to consider herbicide resistance
and the health and environmental issues of increased herbicide use by
farmers."

"Our Network will be urging farmers to speak up and reject the Risk
Assessment and Risk Management Plan (open for comment until 26 May 2003)
and make the government accountable. Once GM canola is released it cannot
be recalled from the environment. We're being sold out for promises with
minimal, beneficial returns and a product that dominates the natural
environment," Mr Kinnear said.

"We will be asking VIC, SA and QLD to join TAS, WA and NSW and reject
plantings in their jurisdiction now that the Federal Government is one
step away from issuing a licence," Mr Kinnear said.

ENDS 

For further information:
Mrs Julie Newman, WA tel: (08) 9871 1562 or mobile (0427) 711 644
Mr Scott Kinnear, VIC mobile: (0419) 881 729
Mr Sam Statham, NSW tel: (02) 6344 3215 or mobile (0428) 667 317.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  GM Canola not a risk says OGTR
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
        http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=251
DATE:   April 1, 2003

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GM Canola not a risk says OGTR

Office of the Gene Technology Regulator

GTR01/03 1 April 2003

GENE TECHNOLOGY REGULATOR RELEASES BAYER GM CANOLA RISK MANAGEMENT PLAN
FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

The Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator, Dr Sue Meek, today released
for public comment a Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan for the
Bayer CropScience (formerly Aventis) application to commercially release
genetically modified (GM) canola throughout Australia.

The Plan has been released for an extended, eight (8) week period of
public scrutiny and comment until 26 May 2003.

"Over the past nine months I have thoroughly investigated the possible
impact of the release of seven varieties of Bayer's canola drawing on the
expertise of a range of expert groups and key stakeholders to assist me
in my deliberations," Dr Meek said.

"The conclusion I have reached from these exhaustive assessments is that
this GM canola poses no higher risk to human health and safety or the
environment than is currently posed by the farming of conventional, non-
genetically modified canola.

"As with the non-GM product, the genetically modified crop is of minimal
risk. Therefore, only ongoing oversight requirements are included in the
proposed licence conditions that I have set down in the draft risk
assessment and risk management plan."

Dr Meek said all of the GM canola varieties proposed by Bayer have been
previously trialled under limited and controlled conditions in Australia
and, as canola oil is used in human food, their oils have all been
assessed and approved by the responsible food regulator, Food Standards
Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

"I have closely examined an extensive range of possible risks including
potential for toxicity, allergenicity, gene transfer to other crops, the
likelihood of creating problem weeds and possible impacts on wildlife and
soil microorganisms but have found no appreciable risks that would
adversely affect human health or the environment," Dr Meek said

Dr Meek said the commercial decision of whether or not to grow GM canola
is outside the scope of the Gene Technology Act but she understood the
concerns within the community about market and trade issues posed by the
introduction of GM crops in Australia.

"There are a number of industry-focussed initiatives proposing ways for
GM and non-GM canola to co-exist and I encourage farmers and the public
to become fully informed about all aspects of GM crops," she said.

The GM canola proposed for release by Bayer incorporates a novel breeding
system using gene technology to produce hybrid canola varieties that will
be marketed under the trade name InVigor.

Traditional breeding techniques are used to develop hybrid plants which
display improved agronomic performance, known as hybrid vigour, but this
is the first time in Australia that gene technology would be applied
commercially to achieve the same effect.

The Bayer canola has also been modified to incorporate tolerance to the
herbicide glufosinate ammonium which potentially provides additional weed
control options when the crop is being grown.


Further information on the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (the
final version of which will form the basis of the Regulator's decision on
the application) is available from the OGTR at www.ogtr.gov.au. Comments
on the assessment close on 26 May 2003.


                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Canola risk assessment paper - faith in science
SOURCE: Bayer Cropscience, Media Release
        http://www.lifesciencesnetwork.com/news-detail.asp?newsID=3688
DATE:   April 1, 2003

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Bayer CropScience has welcomed the release of the Office of Gene
Technology Regulator's (OGTR) Genetically Modified (GM) Canola Risk
Assessment and Risk Management Plan for public consultation, and sees its
content and release as demonstrating the robust scientific evaluation of
GM crops.

The release of the assessment document gives the public a chance to
comment on the approval of InVigor hybrid canola, a GM canola variety and
is the next step towards providing this technology to Australian farmers,
which Bayer CropScience believes will offer real benefits.

Bayer CropScience General Manager BioScience, Ms Susie O'Neill, said the
company was looking forward to the finalisation of regulatory approvals,
as many Australian farmers are keen to undertake commercial plantings of
InVigor hybrid canola.

'In reaching this stage of the evaluation process, we believe that the
safety to human health and the environment has been demonstrated through
the extensive research including field trials that have been conducted
over many, many years. The public can have faith in the science and in
the OGTR evaluation.

Ms O'Neill said, once OGTR approval is achieved, InVigor hybrid canola
will be the first GM product released by Bayer CropScience commercially
in Australia.

'We have been working with Australian farmers now for a number of years
to develop GM canola varieties suited to Australian conditions.

All environmental and human health and safety aspects of InVigor hybrid
canola have been clearly identified to growers and the public and have
been considered by the OGTR in its evaluation.

'As has been proven in Canada, InVigor hybrid canola offers growers
higher yields compared to conventional canola, in the order of between 10
to 15%, and more flexible weed control using Liberty herbicide.

'Australian growers will also have the choice whether or not to apply
Liberty. herbicide to InVigor hybrid canola for weed control. Liberty is
a new herbicide group (N) that will be available in broadacre agriculture
on Liberty tolerant crops. Liberty offers a new option for weed control
that will be a real benefit for weed resistance management.

Ms O'Neill said InVigor will be available commercially in Victoria
initially, and only a small area will be grown in 2003.

'This is largely due to the expected lateness of planting, and the final
amount of InVigor planted will depend on how the season develops
climatically.'

Ms O'Neill said that Bayer CropScience would be working closely with a
small number of growers who are keen to plant InVigor hybrid canola. This
will ensure the smooth introduction of this commercial first in Australia.

'We have an agreed management plan for growers consistent with industry-
wide protocols. This will ensure that all canola being grown, harvested
and handled will fall within all market specifications agreed to by
industry stakeholders and authorities - and also Australia's trading partners.

The environmental and economic benefits of InVigor hybrid canola are so
far, best known to the farmers involved with GM field trials and the
first commercial years will focus on demonstrating these benefits more
widely to farmers.

Victorian grain grower, Greg Petrass, has been involved in the Bayer
CropScience trial program for GM canola over the past three years and
says, 'We have always found the Bayer CropScience team very professional
in their trial program and have not experienced any environmental issues
at all as a result of the GM canola.

'I have also been impressed with the yield and growth benefits of the GM
canola trials, and believe that this technology offers real benefits and
potential for Australian farmers.

'The key factor for me is that we need to be able to grow quality grain
in the harsh Australian conditions. If genetically engineered crops can
achieve that, and offer a higher yield, then it is a choice Australian
farmers should have.'

'We are working towards providing varieties that will be suited to all
major Australian canola regions, and are confident that in time, all
Australian farmers will have a choice to grow GM canola if they wish,' Ms
O'Neill said.