GENET archive


9-Misc: Public controversary on GE crops in Australia

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Why we should keep saying no to modified food
SOURCE: The Age,  Australia
DATE:   21 Feb 2006

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Why we should keep saying no to modified food

Knowledge of the real dangers - not "fear of the unknown" (Editorial,
20/2) - led most state governments to ban genetically modified (GM)
crops. Given the choice, most farmers do not want to grow GM crops and
most shoppers do not want to buy or eat them. State powers over GM
crops, animals and microbes released to the environment have broad
public support, to restrain the Federal Government's promotion of GM
products, which serve only the interests of GM companies.

People say no to GM crops and foods because of increasing evidence that:

- Australian and global markets for all primary produce may be damaged.

- Several animal experiments (including the Australian National
University's pea study) show GM foods are allergenic and also harm the
immune system.

- The GM industry aims to monopolise our food supply, using patents on
living organisms and seed-sterilisation technologies.

- In the long run, GM crops - soy, corn, canola and cotton - harm the
environment and are unsustainable.

So Australia is not "being left behind" by saying no to GM crops and
foods (The Age 17/2). State government GM crop bans that protect our
markets and food supply have wide support among farmers, the food
industry and shoppers.

Victorian farmers are unsubsidised producers and niche marketers who
depend on Australia's reputation for healthy, clean, green GM-free
foods, to open new markets here and abroad. For instance, growers on GM-
free Kangaroo Island (South Australia) now receive premium prices for
their GM-free canola in Japan.

In contrast, North American growers stumbled into a GM crop trap. Saving
seed to replant is banned by patent law and Monsanto's GM soybean-use
contract, so many farmers are being sued for a practice that is
thousands of years old. And once US farmers had adopted GM crops, the
promised benefits disappeared. More than 80 per cent of the US soybean
crop is GM because, as the Illinois Farm Bureau's annual conference
heard: "The farmers I represent say it's virtually impossible to find
non-GMO seeds now." Most Australian farmers don't want GM seeds that
cost more, cannot be saved and give unfettered powers to seed and
chemical giants. Support our farmers - and the continuation of state
bans on GM crops.

Bob Phelps, director, GeneEthics Network, Carlton

YOUR editorial supports the removal of the ban on further GM crop
production in Victoria. At the same time you note the need to ensure
that GM crops cannot contaminate the crops of clean and green producers.
This issue, however, has not yet been resolved. Therefore, it would seem
inconsistent for The Age to support the rights of farmers to be able to
produce and for consumers to be able to buy organically grown food free
of GM contamination. Until it can be guaranteed that GM crops will not
be able to contaminate other plants, especially food crops, the ban
should remain in place.

Betty Russell, Warrandyte

I HAVE recently been to Hurstbridge where canola is growing in the river
and clogging it. Roundup does not kill it and the locals want to know
how to rid themselves of this super-weed. Is this the result of GM
Roundup Ready Canola finding its way into the watercourse? Maybe the GM
crop bans need to be in place a little longer until this rather major
problem can be resolved.

Deborah Sowden, Eltham

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

TITLE:  Talking up the benefits of GM crops
SOURCE: The Advertiser, Australia, by Nigel  Austin
DATE:   08 Feb 2006

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Talking up the benefits of GM crops

KIMBA - THIS year's Rural Industries Research and Development
Corporation Rural Woman of the Year will hold forums on genetically
modified crops around the state to help increase knowledge of the latest
technology._ Heather Baldock said the award would provide her with an
incredible opportunity for personal growth and help her become more
confident in accepting other agriculture sector opportunities. "The
award will increase my confidence to tackle some challenging issues and
feel more able to make an important contribution," she said. She plans
to hold at least four forums on GM crops around the state. Mrs Baldock
recently made a successful submission to the Community Builders Program
for the Upper/Eastern Eyre Region, run through the Office of Regional
Affairs, and was appointed its facilitator. Early this year, she became
the local SAFF branch secretary. Mrs Baldock said there was a need in
the community for more factual information about GM technology. "The
RIRDC Bursary will enable me to acquire more skills to effectively
organise these forums, as well as cover some of my costs associated with
running them," she said. Born and raised on a farm, Mrs Baldock had
farmed with husband Graeme for almost 29 years at Kimba. "We became No
Till farmers nine years ago, much to the concern and amusement of some
neighbours, but the percentage of No Till farmers in the area is now
quite high," she said. She lamented the fact that, while many farm women
had major roles in financial management and even physical farm work,
they were not acknowledged in the wider community as being farmers. She
said her longest commitment to the rural community was her active
involvement in the Kimba Community Development Group. "I was a founding
member of this organisation in the late 1980s when local farms were
rapidly being sold up by banks, depression was more common than the
common cold, and the farming community's population and services were
dwindling rapidly," she said. "It was a long, slow process to change
people's negative attitudes and bring hope and economic viability back,
but we have succeeded."

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

TITLE:  Japanese pay premier price for GM free canola
SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   01 Feb 2006

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Japanese pay premier price for GM free canola

Grain growers on Kangaroo Island are receiving a premium price for their
genetically-modified (GM) free canola after signing a deal with a
Japanese company. After four years of negotiations, 18 growers on the
island are exporting a trial shipment of 2,000 tonnes this month and
hope to double the tonnage next year. Derrick Johnson from the Kangaroo
Island Canola Company says the Japanese approached growers because of
the island's GM free status. "The idea is that the canola be GM free
which flys in the face of all GM proponents which say there's no premium
for non-GMO products," he said.


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