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7-Business: Australian Twynam Agricultural Group opposes GE canola

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

TITLE:  Twynam opposes GM canola
SOURCE: Australian Financial Review, by Cathy Bolt
DATE:   Jul 24, 2003

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Twynam opposes GM canola

One of Australia's biggest farmers and a grower of genetically modified
cotton, Twynam Agricultural Group, has joined those opposing the
commercial release of GM canola.

Gene technology regulator Sue Meek is expected to issue her determination
today or tomorrow on whether it is safe for Bayer CropScience's GM
Invigor canola to be released.

Earlier this week, a major review of GM crops for the British government
found those on the market posed very low risk to human health.

But the review also said uncertainty would rise as the range and variety
of transgenic plants increased.

Twynam's central regional manager, Bruce Finney, said yesterday the
commercial risk of releasing GM canola was too high due to concerns about
market acceptance and contamination.

In contrast, pest-resistant cotton, the first GM crop released in
Australia, had offered clear environmental benefits in reduced
insecticide use, there was no issue with market acceptance, and GM and
conventional production systems could coexist.

"That's not the case when it comes to GM canola," he said. "At best,
coexistence is likely to result in a win-lose outcome and, at worst, it
could be a lose-lose situation."

Mr Finney said Twynam, which has 17 properties in NSW, broadly viewed
biotechnology as a valuable tool in grain production. Its operations in
Argentina grow GM modified corn, soybeans and cotton.

Twynam's stance is similar to Dutch-owned agribusiness bank, Rabobank
Australia, which has urged a highly cautious approach to the release of
GM canola while there are contamination concerns that could jeopardise
farmers' ability to choose whether they participate in the technology.

Dr Meek made a draft determination in April that Invigor canola posed no
greater risk to humans or the environment than conventional canolas, but
her role did not take into account commercial considerations. Since then,
all canola-growing states have imposed moratoriums of up to three years
on a release.

The British GM review said there had been no verifiable ill effects from
extensive consumption of products from GM crops over seven years and
field experiments showed they were unlikely to invade the countryside.

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

TITLE:  Nothing to lose by using GM crops, ABARE says
SOURCE: Australian Financial Review, by Cathy Bolt
DATE:   Jul 29, 2003

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Nothing to lose by using GM crops, ABARE says

Genetically modified food crops are finding ready markets worldwide and
there is little evidence that growers will gain financially by remaining
GM-free, according to a new government report.

The finding puts more pressure on the states over their bans on the
release of GM canola after Bayer CropScience's InVigor was official
approved last week.

The rapid adoption of genetically engineered crops in the United States,
Argentina and Canada has led to complex changes in world trade, the
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics report says.

The changes include new market access barriers, such as mandatory
labelling and bans on some grains. However, despite these restrictions,
there was no strong evidence that GM grains generally were not finding
ready markets.

"GM-producing countries already dominate the world grain trade, with
export market shares of 79 per cent for maize, 69 per cent for soya
beans, 53 per cent for cottonseed and 42 per cent for canola," the report

"Moreover, there is limited evidence of willingness by consumers to pay
high prices for products that are certified not to contain GM materials.
At this stage, the market for certified non-GM grain would appear to be
only a niche one."

The report will further inflame the debate over GM technology after last
week's landmark determination by the Office of the Gene Technology
Regulator that InVigor GM canola was safe for commercial release.

This would make InVigor the third GM plant species available to farmers
in Australia after cotton and a blue-tinged carnation, but the first one
primarily produced for food and stockfeed. However, its commercial
release is still blocked by precautionary freezes of up to five years on
GM crops imposed or planned by all the southern states.

The states' concerns, shared by many farmers, centre largely on market
resistance to GM crops, the costs of segregating them, and the threat to
Australia's clean, green marketing image.

On Friday, Western Australian Agriculture Minister Kim Chance ruled out
any commercial releases of GM crops for three years in the country's
biggest grain-producing state. Victoria, South Australia and NSW could
still allow a commercial release of canola next season, or at least
large-scale trials, under the different regimes they have in place.

In its report, ABARE noted concerns by national wheat exporter AWB and
barley exporter ABB Grain that the release of GM canola in Australia
could jeopardise markets for other grains because of concern about
contamination. However, it said there was little evidence that GM-
producing countries were having difficulty gaining market access for non-
GM grains.


Status of genetically modified crops
[sent by AGNET, Canada, Jul 31, 2003]

* Industry-agreed moratorium on commercial release of GM canola until
March 2004.
* Two independent studies into trade and co-existence issues to determine
position beyond 2004
* Victorian Farmers Federation last week decided to oppose a three-year

* Moratorium on GM food crops until March 2006.
* Trials can continue.
* NSW Farmers Association last week voted to support paddock-sized trials
totalling up to 5000 ha of GM canola in 2004 and 2005.

* Legislation planned by next autumn to stop commercial release of GM
crops unless they can be proved not to harm markets or other crops.
* Complete prohibition on Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula.

* Legislation drafted for moratorium on commercial release of GM crops
until 2006 provides for GM-free zones expected to cover all farmland.

* No moratorium on commercial releases but grows little canola, the only
GM food crop ready for release in next three years.
* Premier Beattie says other states' bans are a political stunt.

* GM canola declared a noxious weed for next five years.
* Conducting GM poppy trials. 


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