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GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: GMO moratoria in Australia: News from Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  GE FREE FOOD GOOD FOR TASMANIA

SOURCE: The Greens Tasmania, Australia

AUTHOR: Press Release, by Kim Booth

URL:    http://tas.greens.org.au/News/view_MR.php?ActionID=2504

DATE:   16.08.2007

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GE FREE FOOD GOOD FOR TASMANIA

But Where Is Government Market Research?

The Tasmanian Greens today called on the State Government to release any research it had done into the national and international marketing benefits to the State’s Brand and economy of the current moratorium on genetically engineered food crops, following assertions by pro-GE advocates that the moratorium has not benefited farmers.

Greens Shadow Primary Industries spokesperson Kim Booth MHA said that the Greens had always advocated that the five year State moratorium should be utilised to have such market research conducted in order for there to be real data available to contribute to further evaluation of the ban on GE crops, and that if the government has missed the boat by not having done so then Tasmanians will have been let down drastically.

”The government must now release research quantifying the benefits to the Tasmanian economy, both now and into the future that are brought to us by our internationally significant GE-free status,” Mr Booth said.

”The Greens have always advocated that the five years of our current moratorium should provide a good opportunity to conduct research into national and international markets to ascertain the value of our GE free status on the State’s Brand as a whole, as well as a marketing tool to secure lucrative high-value niche markets in Japan and Europe, where the consumer want guaranteed access to GE free food.”

”It is all very easy for Biotechnology companies, who profit from genetically engineered crops through seed and chemical sales, to claim that moratoriums have not benefited farmers while attempting to lobby governments to change legislation to allow the proliferation of genetically engineered food crops, without having to refer to any specific example.”

”Hopefully the State Labor government has acted to ensure that such ongoing national and international research is underway, so that the true market value and benefit to farmers and other contributors to the Tasmanian economy can be ascertained and evaluated, especially given the imminent Parliamentary Inquiry into the moratorium.”

”The government needs to protect Tasmanian farmers from the serious threat posed to their future by the Biotech companies who will profit from breaking the protection that the GE ban brings, and we must be able to evaluate the impact of that loss to the State’s overall Clean, Green Brand,” Mr Booth said.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  CONCERNS BRUMBY WILL SUPPORT GM CROPS

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/31/1992839.htm?site=victoria

DATE:   31.07.2007

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CONCERNS BRUMBY WILL SUPPORT GM CROPS

A lobby group is concerned Victorian Premier John Brumby might soften the State Government’s stance on genetically modified crops. Victoria currently has a moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically modified crops. The Government must decide next year if it will lift the ban. Bob Phelps, from the Gene Ethics Network, says Mr Brumby is a known supporter of genetically modified technologies. He says his organisation will use the retirements of Steve Bracks and John Thwaites to pressure Mr Brumby. ”There’ll be two by-elections of course. We’ll certainly be seeking to make this an issue on those areas which are very progressive, green oriented, and I think that it will be a wake up call for the government,” Mr Phelps said.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  CHANCE CASTS DOUBT OVER GM CANOLA BIOFUELS BOOST

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/17/2007885.htm

DATE:   17.08.2007

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CHANCE CASTS DOUBT OVER GM CANOLA BIOFUELS BOOST

The Western Australian Minister for Agriculture says there is nothing to suggest genetically modified (GM) canola would provide a boost to the state’s biofuels industry. Both the Opposition and the state’s farm lobby group are calling on the State Government to lift its ban on GM crops, saying it stifles research and disadvantages farmers. Minister Kim Chance says he wants the state to use biofuels for 5 per cent of its transport needs, but he does not believe GM canola will help achieve that target. ”There’s no linkage between GM canola and biodiesel that gives GM canola any advantage,” he said. ”The amount of area of Western Australia’s farmland that can actually grow canola is quite a small area and I’m not aware of any particular traits that make it more suitable for biodiesel.” Mr Chance says the Government is reviewing its position on GM crops.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  MORE STUDY INTO GM FOOD NEEDED, RESEARCHER SAYS

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/14/2004483.htm

DATE:   14.08.2007

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MORE STUDY INTO GM FOOD NEEDED, RESEARCHER SAYS

A genetic researcher says there is a serious lack of independent study into genetically modified (GM) food, which could see GM seed released prematurely. The Federal Government is pushing for the introduction of GM canola, saying it is safe. Institute of Health and Environment Research director Judy Carman says strict commercial agreements makes it hard to get hold of GM food for research. ”The GM crop companies have therefore, in effect, prevented a lot of independent work being done on the agronomic performance of these crops,” she said. ”How will they actually stack up in the fields, the environmental effects of these crops and also the potential health effects of these crops on people who are eating them.”



                                  PART 5

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TITLE:  GM CANOLA ’COULD BE WORTH EXTRA $200M’

SOURCE: The West Australian, Australia

AUTHOR: Jodie Thomson

URL:    http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=77&ContentID=37712

DATE:   18.08.2007

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GM CANOLA ’COULD BE WORTH EXTRA $200M’

Allowing WA farmers to grow genetically modified canola could unlock a crop worth an extra $200 million a year, according to an assessment by a leading academic which increases pressure on the State Government to end its moratorium on GM crops.

Professor Michael Jones, director of the WA Agricultural Biotechnology Centre at Murdoch University, said GM canola could deliver a windfall for growers through boosted yields of up to 20 per cent.

Professor Jones’ assessment came as Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran released a national report outlining the environmental and economic benefits of the new technology in a move designed to add pressure on State governments to lift moratoriums on GM crops.

The Bureau of Rural Sciences report examining oilseed crops such as canola and cotton warned the industry would struggle over the next decade without production benefits from biotechnology.

Professor Jones said GM canola would increase yield potential by 15 to 20 per cent, adding $200 million a year to the value of WA’s canola crop.

”They would be using more environmentally friendly herbicides and down the line you would expect oils with improved health properties and you could also see more efficient use of fertiliser,” he said.

Canola is an oil and fodder crop and can also act as a ”break crop” — where it is used in crop rotation systems to help control weeds and plant diseases.

About 500,000 tonnes of canola is expected to be harvested in WA later this year, less than 7 per cent of the State’s total predicted grain crop, which is dominated by wheat and barley.

GM canola has been grown for years by major competitors Canada and the US and is likely to be the first broadacre GM crop to be grown in the WA Wheatbelt if the State Government’s moratorium is lifted.

A conventional canola variety is in full flower at Ashley Wiese’s property south of Narrogin. He expects per hectare returns to be good this year, a result of booming global prices and above average yields. While the returns can be strong, it is a relatively expensive and risky crop to grow, which has led to the State’s production falling in recent years. The offer of better gross margins was likely to increase canola plantings. Mr Wiese supports the push by the State’s farm groups for the GM moratorium to be lifted.

”I think there has been a swing in producer sentiment,” he said. ”In the early days the big concern was that we would lose markets but I think consumers have shown us direction in their lack of willingness to pay a premium for non-GM product.”

An estimated 4.8 million hectares of GM canola, about 5 per cent of global biotech crop area, was grown last year, mainly in Canada and the US.

Yesterday’s BRS report warned that the failure to adopt the GM technology could cost the Australian economy $3 billion over the next decade and the oilseed industry would struggle in coming years without production benefits associated with GM varieties. WA shadow agriculture minister Gary Snook yesterday criticised Labor’s ”sit and see” policy.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance denied there was significant pressure on the State to lift its moratorium, which is due to be reviewed next year.

”Most of the contact received by this office seeks an extension of the moratorium,” he said.

GM opponents said the report was a ”rehash” of well-known facts and figures.

Biological Farmers of Australia spokesman Scott Kinnear said the promise of improved profits for farmers was unrealistic and Australia was likely to follow the experience in North America where there were problems segregating grain or seed.


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