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6-Regulation: Australian farmers ask states to put GM canola on ice

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TITLE:  Farmers ask states to put GM canola on ice
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   Jan 31, 2003

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Farmers ask states to put GM canola on ice

Australian farming groups opposed to genetically modified canola have
appealed to state governments to put a moratorium on its expected
commercial release this year.

They are worried about proposed voluntary guidelines that they say will
be an economic burden on non-GM farmers.

Tasmania and Western Australia have already imposed a moratorium on the
release of GM canola and the Network of Concerned Farmers is calling for
other states to follow suit.

The group says the Grain Gene Technology Committee's guidelines mean all
grain farmers would pay extra for segregating GM and non-GM canola.

Network spokesman Scott Kinnear say cross-contamination will also be
inevitable because a five-metre buffer zone is a complete joke.

"There's very good evidence, including Australian research, showing
contamination could go up to three kilometres and even evidence on
Monsanto's own website showing 1 per cent contamination at 130 metres and
2 percent at 50 metres distance," Mr Kinnear said.

The New South Wales Farmers Association is yet to consider the protocols,
before deciding whether to continue calling for a moratorium on the
release of GM canola.

Mr Kinnear says the protocol would cost farmers dearly.

"Europe is moving in the very near future to label non-GM oils," he said.
"China is moving to label oils as well.

"This could drive, and we believe will drive, a premium price for non-GM
canola oil.

"That means that Australia, if we do release GM canola, will lose access
to potentially a very profitable market."

The Australian Democrats' agriculture spokesman, John Cherry, has also
criticised the committee, claiming it is dominated by multinational agri-

But the New South Wales Government says the Grain Gene Technology
Committee represents the grain industry, science and government.

Agriculture Minister Richard Amery says the Government is willing to
accept an assessment of the protocol by the federal regulator.

Mr Amery says he cannot say when or if the commercial release should go ahead.