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6-Regulation: New South Wales (Australia) sticks to GE canolamoratorium

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TITLE:  Three year wait for GM canola
SOURCE: Cootamundra Herald, Australia
DATE:   Apr 7, 2003

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Three year wait for GM canola

The NSW Government said its policy to place a three-year ban on the
release of commercial genetically modified canola crops in the State had
not changed.

This declaration came as the Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator, Dr
Sue Meek, gave approval for a licence to be given for Bayer Crop Science
(formerly Aventis) to commercially release GM Canola throughout Australia.

Dr Meek last week released for public comment a Risk Assessment and Risk
Management Plan on Bayer Crop Science's GM canola application, which will
now face an eight week period of public scrutiny and comment until May 26.

However, if no significant issues are raised concerning possible human
health risks or risks to the environment then GM commercial canola crops
could be grown in Australia as early as mid June this year.

Dr Meek said that the GM canola line to be released by Bayer Crop
Science, known as InVigor, posed no greater risk to human safety or the
environment than non-GM canola.

"As with the non-GM product, the genetically modified crop is of minimal
risk," she said.

However, a spokesperson, for the NSW Minister of Agriculture Ian
McDonald, said that the NSW Government's position to ban the commercial
release of GM canola had not changed.

The spokesperson said that even if the Gene Technology Regulator came out
in favour of growing GM crops in June, the canola sowing date for NSW,
which is mid April to late May, would have passed, giving the government
time to enact the GM ban in legislation.

At the beginning of March, NSW Premier Bob Carr said that if reelected
his government would place a three-year ban on the commercial release of
GM crops in NSW.

"This is an issue where these is some agreement between environmentalists
and farmers. It is an emotive issue requiring further analysis before
commercial GM crops are released in NSW," Mr Carr said.

NSW Premier Carr said that this legislation would be passed under the NSW
Gene Technology Regulation Act to suspend the production of GM food crops
until at least 2006.

Elsewhere in Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia are considering
declaring their entire State GM free, and the South Australian Government
made an election commitment similar to NSW to introduce GM free zones
across the State.

However, the Queensland and Victorian State Governments have announced no
intention to introduce such GM commercial canola bans.

Cootamundra Farmer Andrew Bell, who grows about 100 hectares of canola
each year on his property "Bindinyah", said he certainly wasn't opposed
to the idea of Genetic Modification, but was concerned about possible
strings attached to the use of a company's commercial GM canola seeds.

"I'm wary of GM canola if the package we're being sold is owned by a
chemical company, which requires a certain chemical or fertiliser for the
GM seed that can only be obtained from that company," Mr Bell said.

Mr Bell said that he was very much in favour of NSW Government's decision
to place a three-year ban on the commercial release of GM canola in NSW.

"Once the genie is out of the bottle we can't get it back inside."