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GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: GMO moratoria in Australia: Two farmer groups supporting the GE canola moratoria




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  GE CANOLA MORATORIUMS MUST STAY

SOURCE: Biological Farmers of Australia, Australia

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.bfa.com.au/_files/20070819_GE%20Moratoria%20Review.pdf

DATE:   20.08.2007

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GE CANOLA MORATORIUMS MUST STAY

The BFA group, Australia’s largest representative body of more than 1700 certified organic farmers, has lodged a submission today to the SA, NSW & Victorian Governments reviewing the moratoriums prohibiting planting of genetically engineered (GE) canola.

”The BFA submission comprehensively makes the case for continuing the moratoria on the planting of GE crops in Australia”, said Scott Kinnear spokesperson.

The submission titled Genetic Engineering – A Review of the Evidence takes a critical look at the North American and Canadian experience with GE canola and contrasts this with European and Asian markets and Australian export opportunities.

The following points are relevant to the BFA submission:

That continuing the moratorium produces security for the growth of Australian farm business including the rapidly growing organic sector.

That the global crop area of GE canola has not increased since 1999

That the claims by GE proponents that we will fall behind and be unable to compete have no foundation and ironically bear the hall marks of emotion and hysteria that the anti GE sector is accused of.

That the GE canola being pushed for commercial release is not drought or salt tolerant and will not use less fertiliser.

That North America and Canada pay billions of dollars of direct subsidies to farmers and that farm incomes have fallen disastrously. This comes at the expense of health and education spending.

That Australia remains of the three players on the global market, the only GE free canola producer and that strict labelling laws in the EU makes our canola the preferred product for food and biofuel use.

The premiums cannot be denied: Australian canola wins by up to $120 US per tonne, and an average of $68 US more over 2 years than the previous 10 years.

That consumer resistance has increased, even according to loaded opinion surveys.

That its not just organic vs GE canola, that commercial release will affect organic and non- GE farmers across the board including grains and stock feds.

That the cost of segregation has been conservatively estimated again at 5-15%, even at high admix thresholds and will need to be borne by the GE free and organic farm sector, not the GE sector.

That yield gains are not 20% as claimed but are more likely to be 1%.

That the EU moratorium is not going, in fact some permitted GM varieties are being withdrawn from the approved list etc.

That many more processors and retailers now have absolute GE free purchasing policies and marketing claims (Goodman Fielder, etc).

That the US has lost markets for its organic products due to GE contamination.

That the main impediment to the growth of the organic sector is lack of supply, which means if certain crop specifications cannot be guaranteed (a la Canada), opportunities cannot be developed.

That we do not oppose biotechnology, but fully support the use of non GE biotechnology to assist in progressing desirable traits such as drought and salt tolerant crops.

That safety continues to be disproven and that GE is increasingly viewed as ”Old Science”, with unpredictable and unstable genomes.

That in granting safety approval the Federal OGTR applied outdated concepts of ”substantial equivalence” as did the US, unable to admit that unforseen and harmful outcomes are almost certain to occur with uncontrolled spread and evolution of these novel constructs.

That there is a growing alliance of farmers and consumers in North America and worldwide opposed to GE wheat being released there next, while litigation is continuing surrounding existing GE crops.

That the GE sector has a major weakness if a GE product is found to cause significant harm, triggering world wide market rejection. Removal of GE canola if it is released will be almost impossible should the market reject GE.

These moratoria were allowed for by the Federal Gene Technology Act whereby State Governments were given the power to reject GE releases should they impact negatively on the marketing of food from any such state.

”These moratoria were correctly implemented by State Governments protecting our grains system from contamination despite the Federal Governments rigorous campaign in support of the global GE corporations”, said Scott Kinnear.

”The facts speak for themselves. There is no new evidence to show any benefit to farmers, food processors, consumers or export customers. The evidence instead shows increased cost of segregation, litigation, risk to our GE free status, risk to human health and the environment, loss of premiums and the benefits accruing to the agribusiness corporations who own the technology.”

”The BFA urges the panels in Victoria and NSW and the Advisory Committee in SA to recommend the moratoria continue for at least another five years.”

The submission can be downloaded from the BFA website

http://www.bfa.com.au/index.asp?Sec_ID=233



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  ORGANIC FARMERS WORRY GM CANOLA WILL BE UNCONTROLLABLE

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/22/2011585.htm

DATE:   22.08.2007

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ORGANIC FARMERS WORRY GM CANOLA WILL BE UNCONTROLLABLE

Organic farmers are warning that the release of genetically-modified (GM) canola could be a disaster for conventional farmers. Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran wants bans on GM canola lifted, allowing farmers to commercially grow the herbicide-resistant crop. Robyn Grant from the Organic Agriculture Association says GM canola will become an uncontrollable weed. She says herbicide-resistant canola will invade other grain crops and will cross with similar-species crops like cauliflower and broccoli. ”We’re going to be in the same position that we’ve got for any feral species of weed or animal in this country,” she said. ”You just have to go into the grain growing areas in Australia in the spring, especially in South Australia and Victoria and New South Wales and you just see this yellow flower growing everywhere. That is canola.”



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  ORGANIC FARMING BODY WARNS AGAINST GM CANOLA

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/16/2006857.htm

DATE:   16.08.2007

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ORGANIC FARMING BODY WARNS AGAINST GM CANOLA

Australia’s peak organic farming body is predicting widespread legal action if genetically modified (GM) canola is allowed to be grown in Australia. The Federal Government this week began pushing for the introduction of GM canola, saying it is safe. South Australia has a moratorium on the commercial planting of GM crops, which is under review. The director of Biological Farmers of Australia, Scott Kinnear, says experience in the United States shows the lifting of any ban will unleash a flurry of litigation: ”Without any question there will be litigation if genetically modified canola is planted and contamination will occur,” he said. ”Government has not put in place any assessment of the legal implications and in fact the cost of litigation should be taken into account when weighing up any benefits.”



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  FARMERS REFUSE TO ACCEPT LIABILITY FOR GM CROPS

SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2843

DATE:   17.08.2007

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FARMERS REFUSE TO ACCEPT LIABILITY FOR GM CROPS

 

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”If the genuine concerns of farmers are ignored by State governments neglecting their legislated responsibility to assess economics, they must be prepared to compensate farmers for these losses.”

”It is not acceptable that the pro-GM sector with vested interest are pushing for GM and claiming there is not a problem when they expect us farmers to pay if our concerns are proven correct.”

If the Moratoria are lifted...Will you have a choice?                   

For NSW:  Submissions close 31st August 2007 http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/reviews/gmcrops

For SA: Submissions close 17th August  http://www.pir.sa.gov.au

For Victoria: Subsmissions close 17th August  http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/nrenfa.nsf/LinkView/5477226A88881F86CA2572E300074EEF89E6C67B468BD2A7CA256FB70001BAB8

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The submission process closes today for the review of GM crop moratoria in Victoria and South Australia and on the 31st August for New South Wales. The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) has released a comprehensive economic report slamming the profitability promises of GM crops and explaining the drive behind it.

”GM crops are a serious economic threat to the farming sector and this threat can not be ignored by State governments with the responsibility to assess economics,” said Julie Newman, WA farmer and National spokesperson for NCF.

”It is not acceptable that the pro-GM sector with vested interest are pushing for GM and claiming there is not a problem when they expect us farmers to pay if our concerns are proven correct.”

”Non-GM farmers will not accept the economic loss associated with the introduction of a GM crop we do not want and do not need,” Mrs Newman added.

The NCF document explains that despite coexistence being promised, coexistence would fail and conventional farmers will be expected to market as GM. Using ABARE statistics comparing price penalties associated with Canada adopting GM crops, Mrs Newman has estimated an expected reduction in the canola price of over Aus$60/tonne.

”If the genuine concerns of farmers are ignored by State governments neglecting their legislated responsibility to assess economics, they must be prepared to compensate farmers for these losses,” said Mrs Newman.

”It’s a backward step to introduce subsidies rather than fair risk management.”

”Economic Assessment of GM canola: Benefits and alternatives, risks and the risk management needed.”

http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/documents/GM moratoria submission.doc



                                  PART 5

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TITLE:  FARMERS GROUP SLAMS REPORT THAT SUPPORTS GM

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/2007/s2000800.htm

DATE:   09.08.2007

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FARMERS GROUP SLAMS REPORT THAT SUPPORTS GM

The Network of Concerned Farmers has hit out at a new grains industry report which endorses the production of genetically modified canola in Australia.

The report, by Single Vision Australia, says GM and conventional canola crops could be segregated here and that pollination contamination would not lock growers out of conventional markets.

It also says Canada is receiving better prices for GM canola than Australia is for non-GM varieties.

But network member Arthur Bowman refutes the findings.

"Canada tried to segregate for the sake of their markets and they couldn't do it," he said.

"Right now we can sell anywhere throughout the world.

"As was quoted by Kim Chance, last year we were selling at a premium to Canadian prices in 2006 and we have also had another report from Mark Martin from Market Ag saying that canola prices this year will again produce a premium because of the fact that we have a GM-free product."



                                  PART 6

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TITLE:  GM SEGREGATION BIG ‘UNRESOLVED CONCERN‘

SOURCE: North Queensland Register, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://nqr.farmonline.com.au/news_daily.asp?ag_id=44555

DATE:   14.08.2007

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GM SEGREGATION BIG ‘UNRESOLVED CONCERN‘

The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) has raised concerns surrounding last week’s launch of the report which claims Australia is ready to grow GM canola. NCF says there are major issues with the report, which comes from Single Vision Grains Australia (SVGA). NCF spokeswoman, Julie Newman, says the report has not covered how growers seeking to remain non-GM could retain their path to market. ”All coexistence plans to date, look at how GM canola has a path to market but this report fails to address how non-GM canola is to retain a path to market,” she says. Liability for implementation of GM segregations is being pushed across to non-GM farmers. This is unacceptable. ”We do not support any coexistence plans that leaves us responsible for the cost of remaining GM-free”. ”We are told to believe that there are no price penalties but yet we’re expected to pay if there is,” she says. But non-GM farmers were not contacted regarding their concerns during the compilation of the report.

SOURCE: National grains news from Rural Press weekly rural weekly papers, updated daily on FarmOnline.



                                  PART 7

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TITLE:  ANTI-GM LOBBY WELCOMES ESPERANCE, WA, FIELD TRIAL

SOURCE: North Queensland Register, Australia

AUTHOR: Colin Bettles

URL:    http://nqr.farmonline.com.au/news_daily.asp?ag_id=44350

DATE:   07.08.2007

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ANTI-GM LOBBY WELCOMES ESPERANCE, WA, FIELD TRIAL

Approval of Western Australia’s first independent broad-scale genetically modified canola field-trial has been given the thumbs up by WA’s farming community, including notorious anti-GM lobby group, the Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF).

The NCF, an Australia wide lobby of conventional and organic farmers concerned about the economic, environmental and social implications of GM crops, says the trial will provide an opportunity to truly assess the performance of GM under local conditions.

The cropping trial was announced informally by WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance last week.

The 2.1ha trial will be held on the Esperance Downs research station in WA’s canola friendly southern agricultural region next year, and will be hosted by the progressive South East Premium Wheat Growers Association.

The trial will involve small plot variety evaluation and small plot agronomy trials in conjunction with large scale demonstration blocks, measuring the performance of several different GM varieties compared to current technology.

NCF believe that a greater volume of independent, practical, detailed and accurate information is needed to held guide decision making by farmers and the broader farming community, on all issues related to GM crops.

NCF WA spokesperson, Julie Newman, said the NCF had lobbied for several years to promote independent performance trials but they had been denied by GM companies.

Ms Newman said the yield advantage and improved profitability attributed to GM crops could not be regarded as a certainty and needed rigorous investigation.

”Especially considering how average canola yields have fallen since GM canola was introduced into Canada’s farming systems and the subsequent introduction of Government subsidies to Canadian oilseed farmers,” Ms Newman said.

”If independent trials are truly out to compare the variety in a way that negated false positives, there may not be a yield benefit at all.”

SOURCE: Extract from a full report to appear in Farm Weekly, WA’s leading rural newspaper, August 9 issue.


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