GENET archive


2-Plants: West Australia could lift ban on GM crops

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

TITLE:  Coalition could lift ban on GM crops
SOURCE: The West Australian, by Cathy Bolt
DATE:   28 Jan 2005

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Coalition could lift ban on GM crops

WA's ban on growing controversial genetically modified crops, which some
scientists warn might have unknown health side-effects, could be overturned
under a coalition government.

Shadow agriculture minister Paul Omodei said the coalition would review the
moratorium on GM crops, which have the potential to boost farming profits
significantly through higher yields, lower pesticide use and more efficient
use of herbicides.

But any prospect of lifting the ban is sure to trigger a brawl with green
groups and some farmers, who claim GM grain would contaminate conventional

The emergence of gene technology as a potential election issue coincides
with new figures which show planting of GM crops elsewhere in the world
grew 20 per cent last year to 81 million hectares - mainly soya beans,
maize, cotton and canola.

The pro-biotechnology group International Service for the Acquisition of
Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) predicted it would reach up to 150
million hectares by 2010, boosted by the expected approval in China this
year of a rice genetically modified to resist pests.

While the commercial use of GM technology has been restricted to a few
crops, many scientists believe it could be applied to almost every food,
helping overcome Third World hunger in the process.

But those opposed to the technology, which allows genes to be swapped across
species, say it could have unknown health consequences for humans who
consume the food, encourage the growth of superweeds and put farmers under
the control of multi-national companies that supply the seeds.

The State Government introduced laws last year banning the commercial trial
or production of GM crops, amid concerns that new GM canola varieties
proposed for release might contaminate other grains and threaten WA's
GM-free advantage in export markets.

But Mr Omodei said he had detected a slight shift in mood among farmers in
favour of GM crops.

He intended to discuss the issue with farmers, scientists and grain
marketers if the Liberal-National coalition won government at the election
on February 26 to assess whether the debate needed to be re-opened.

"I don't want to create a political brawl but we will review it when we get
there," he said.

Nationals leader Max Trenorden agreed the debate was likely to be re-opened
sooner than many thought.

But Agriculture Minister Kim Chance, who can allow exemptions to the ban,
said it was very unlikely any GM crops would be released during a second
term of a Labor government.

Greens MLC Dee Margetts said the Greens remained strongly opposed to the
introduction of GM crops. She said WA's GM-free status was more of an
advantage as the amount of GM grain increased elsewhere.

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

TITLE:  Farmers to sue Coalition on GM
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
DATE:   28 Jan 2005

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Farmers to sue Coalition on GM

The Western Australian Liberal and National parties are putting farmers'
livelihoods at risk by threatening to withdraw the State Government's
GM-crop moratorium.

The Network of Concerned Farmers today labelled the move as irresponsible
and warned it would initiate legal action against the Coalition if it tried
to allow GM crops into WA.

"The Gallop Government's current stance of a legislated moratorium is the
only logical solution until the serious questions posed by farmers and
consumers about this technology are answered," Julie Newman, a Newdegate
farmer and the Network's national spokeswoman, said.

Ms Newman said the Network was currently consider three avenues of legal
action should the Australian Government and/or a future State Coalition
Government push ahead with their pro-GM agendas.

"Firstly, if a Coalition Government in WA did approve either large scale
co-existence trials or commercial release, we would look at suing them for
neglecting their duty of care. Basing coexistence principles on definitions
that are illegal would be a good start." "And then we would take on the
biotechnology companies once farmers have experienced an economic loss.

"Slater and Gordon is looking at the main action against the biotechnology
companies. "We have already written to the companies in Victoria and South
Australia demanding they come and get their unwanted patented genes off
non-GM farms.

"Farmers are being misled to believe GM will solve problems when there is
more than enough evidence to show that there is little benefit and huge

"Our industry is certainly not prepared for GM release and we must have more
time to look carefully at what is fact and what is fiction and if there is a
resolvable solution. It appears coexistence is impossible to comply with
legal definitions."

"The Coalition has refused to discuss our concerns and has now shown its
true intentions by back-flipping on its previous support for the Gallop
Government's legislation and announcing on the front page of the daily
newspaper that it will review the moratorium."

"The fact that the Liberal Agriculture spokesman has refused to discuss the
matter with our farmers leaves us in no doubt that the review would be
slanted to one side of the debate and removal of the moratorium would

"The majority of farmers and consumers who buy our farm products are
concerned about GM technology. It is disappointing that the coalition, that
is supposed to be "farmers friends", are prepared to consider selling out
our industry."

Media contact:
Julie Newman
0427 711644

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinaeckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(at)
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