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9-Misc: GM food freeze leaves biotech firms 'out in cold'

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  GM food freeze leaves biotech firms 'out in cold'
SOURCE: The Age, Australia, by David Wroe Canberra
DATE:   Jul 17, 2003

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GM food freeze leaves biotech firms 'out in cold'

State governments claiming to be champions of biotechnology were guilty
of double standards for preventing the commercial use of genetically
modified foods, the Australian Academy of Science president said yesterday.

Jim Peacock, who is also a leading gene technology researcher, vowed that
genetically modified food was as safe as regular food, but said
governments were bowing to pressure from activists and the media.

"It is odd that some of our states are intent upon putting out the
message that they are champions of biotechnology . . . while at the same
time, they are rejecting the use of some of the most powerful and
beneficial biotechnologies available," Dr Peacock told the National Press
Club in Canberra.

"There is a suspicion that at least some of the moratoria rest on
political issues," he said.

At least 30 billion meals containing GM crops had been eaten worldwide in
the past six years, yet no adverse effects on health or the environment
had been reported, he said.

Victoria has a 12-month moratorium that ends early in 2004. Its chief
competitor as a biotechnology centre, Queensland, has no moratorium. All
other states have placed freezes on commercial use of GM foods.

A Victorian Government spokesman said the moratorium was to give the
Government time to study the effects on grain export markets, not because
of scientific concerns.

But Dr Peacock said the excuse that farmers would have trouble finding
buyers for GM foods was without basis.

Canada grew 85 per cent of its crop as transgenic canola and had no
problems selling it, he said.

Dr Peacock blamed public scepticism about GM foods on activists
manipulating media.

"In most cases their messages are not supported by factual information,"
he said.

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator is expected to make a
decision within a week on a bid by Bayer to release a genetically altered
canola variety.

If approved, it would be the first GM food crop released for commercial
use in Australia.

Greenpeace spokesman Jeremy Tager said there had been no trials of GM
food safety on humans and only a handful of studies on animals.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Farming bodies accused of backdoor GE bid
SOURCE: Australian Brooadcasting Corporation
DATE:   Jul 16, 2003

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Farming bodies accused of backdoor GE bid

Opponents of genetically engineered (GE) crops say peak farmer groups are
trying to undermine three-year moratoriums in Victoria and New South
Wales. GE Free Victoria convenor Jill Rosier says the Victorian and New
South Wales farmers federations want the Gene Technology Regulator to
approve open-field genetically modified (GM) canola trials. Ms Rosier
says members will argue against the move at separate annual general
meetings next week. She says the results of previous crop trials in
country Victoria have never been made public, leaving unanswered
questions about the pollution of non-GM crops. "We really feel - and I'm
expressing farmer sentiment here - that they really are giving a backdoor
entry into Australia for GE canola and also for in many of the cases of
our past GE canola trials, they actually were simply a commercial seed-
producing exercise," Ms Rosier said.


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