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2-Plants: Bayer to get green light for GE canola in Australia



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TITLE:  Bayer to get green light for GE canola
SOURCE: The Sun-Herald, Australia, by Kerry-Anne Walsh
        http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/19/1058545628968.html
DATE:   Jul 20 2003

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Bayer to get green light for GE canola

A decision to allow the commercial growing of a genetically engineered
crop is expected to be announced by a Federal Government body this week.

Government insiders predict that the Office of Gene Technology Regulator
(OGTR) will grant chemical giant Bayer a licence to plant GE canola,
despite deep divisions within the agricultural community over its safety.

If the OGTR does give the go-ahead, the canola would be the first
genetically modified food crop grown for commercial purposes in
Australia. GM cotton is already grown in Queensland and NSW.

The expected decision could be out of step with deep caution among state
governments on the controversial issue. Most have announced moratoriums
on the planting of GM food crops.

The expiry dates range from next year in Victoria and South Australia to
2006 in NSW and Western Australia and 2008 in Tasmania.

Regulator Sue Meeks received hundreds of submissions about the issue in
response to its risk assessment and management plan for the Bayer proposal.

The Regulator is responsible for assessing the impact of GM canola on
human health, safety and the environment.

Dr Meeks told The Sun-Herald that if she did grant Bayer's application,
it would be only one step in the process leading to planting.

The company, or any other applicant, would need to negotiate with state
governments and meet certain standards and regulations, she said. The
OGTR has received more than 300 submissions.

A Greenpeace spokesman said the system of risk assessment was so poor
that "if the Regulator used the same standards in assessing tobacco, it
would be deemed fit for human consumption", he said. 


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