GENET archive


2-Plants: Australian GM canola trials go ahead, cotton trials underdebate

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Cabinet to consider Kimberley cotton research
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   28 Jun 2004

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Cabinet to consider Kimberley cotton research

The World Wide Fund for Nature is urging the Western Australian
Government to rule out cotton growing in the Kimberley.

The group has written to Government ministers ahead of a Cabinet meeting
today where the issue is likely to be raised.

The ministers are expected to discuss whether to renew a memorandum of
understanding with Western Agricultural Industries, which expires on

The company needs the agreement to continue its research into a large-
scale agricultural industry, using GM cotton as the base crop.

Michelle Handley from the World Wide Fund says the agreement should not
be renewed.

"We think that there's already enough evidence to show that the proposal
by Western Agricultural Industries isn't feasible - economically,
culturally or environmentally," she said.

The company says all aspects of the proposal need to be understood by the
community and debated and that is the purpose of the ongoing studies.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance says any support for further research
into the use of GM crops in the region would not contradict its existing

"The Government itself has been part of GM crop trials for many years
both in the east and west Kimberley, there's nothing inconsistent there,
the Government's position has always been to support research into GM
species, there's nothing inconsistent with that," he said.

However, Mr Chance says there are other factors that need to be
considered before it could go ahead.

"That list of issues that has to be gone through includes the agronomy,
the waters levels, the effect on the environment, once all of those
things are settled we can work out if it's a commercial project or not
but we're a long way from that point," he said.

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

TITLE:  Australian GM canola trials go ahead without Monsanto
SOURCE: Food Chemical News, USA, by Mark Thornton
DATE:   14 Jun 2004

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Australian GM canola trials go ahead without Monsanto

The Victorian state government has granted Bayer approval for a 40-
hectare trial by making a special exemption to its general ban on
commercial GM crop trials under a loophole in its new Control of
Genetically Modified Crops Act.

The NSW government also approved a 40-hectare trial because it wants
Bayer to demonstrate the technology's performance in direct comparison
with non-GM crops.

Significantly, a condition of the trials is that Bayer take out public
liability insurance to protect farmers whose non-GM crops might be

NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said he was happy to grant
Bayer's license but was unhappy that Monsanto pulled out of its original
application following a media assault by an unlikely coalition of left-
wing anti-GM activists and right-wing National Party politicians.

Macdonald blamed Monsanto's withdrawal on the activists' "steady stream
of misinformation and negative statements."

He said he granted Bayer's application on three different NSW sites
because "without on-farm trials farmers will remain in the dark about any
potential benefits GM technology might bring. Results will help the
farming community make choices about the technology based on science, not
fear, propaganda or bias."

So far GM crop trials have only taken place on sites of one hectare or
less and have focused on the crops themselves, rather than their
performance compared with others. The new trials will be the first to be
independently evaluated and have their results publicly available --
another issue Bayer conceded to Macdonald.

The test results will be analyzed by Macdonald's Department of Primary
Industries before being given to the state's gene technology advisory

Getting to 'yes'

Victorian Agriculture Minister Bob Cameron said he wanted to license
Bayer's trial despite the state's GM moratorium because its new law was
always intended to allow what he termed low-level scientific research.

"While the government does not believe it is the appropriate time to
release GM canola commercially, to protect Victoria's export markets, we
recognize the importance of ongoing research into GM foods," Cameron said.

Conditions for the GM canola trials are similar in both states:
- No other crop plant may be grown within a five-meter isolation zone
surrounding the GM plot.
- No other canola plants may be grown within a 50-meter buffer zone
beyond the isolation zone.
- None of the seed from the trial may enter the food chain.

But Green and National Party politicians aren't convinced these
conditions will be enough to prevent contaminants.

National Party leader Duncan Gay said he still has "lingering concerns"
about the 50- meter buffer zone because gene regulator Sue Meek had
previously said that 400 meters would give greater protection.

Bayer spokesperson Susie O'Neill welcomed the licensing but said the
company has yet to decide on the location and number of sites for its GM

However, it must decide very soon if it wants to plant this year, because
the southern hemisphere winter has arrived and the planting season is
nearly over.

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Greens want end to Kimberley GM cotton trials
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   14 Jun 2004

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Greens want end to Kimberley GM cotton trials

The Western Australian Greens are calling on the State Government to stop
all trials of genetically modified (GM) cotton in the Kimberley, amid
unrelenting opposition from Indigenous and environmental groups. A new
trial crop has been planted in the region on freehold land as part of a
multi-site study by the industry-funded Cotton Co-operative Research
Centre. The Member for Mining and Pastoral, Robin Chapple, says the State
Government must stick to its GM-free commitment. "A GM-free state is a
GM-free state until the Government wishes to change their mind, but what
they seem to have done is been selective and said, 'we only meant food
crops'. So we have a major concern that they're getting green credits
ostensibly for going GM-free when in fact that's a lie," he said. The
Department of Agriculture says the trial was approved by the gene
technology regulator and is under strict monitoring to ensure that no GM
cotton persists in the environment.

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