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GMO-FREE REGIONS: Report of VFF Grains President and Executive Director - GM canola moratorium




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  REPORT OF VFF GRAINS PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - GM CANOLA MORATORIUM

SOURCE: Victorian Farmers Federation, Australia

AUTHOR: Geoff Nalder & Ian Hunter

URL:    http://www.vff.org.au/main/images/aboutus/VFF%20Ann%20Rep%2007.pdf

DATE:   21.06.2007

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REPORT OF VFF GRAINS PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - GM CANOLA MORATORIUM

It is indeed unfortunate that while many of our overseas competitors have options for working smarter in some areas, we are restricted. The Victorian Government’s GM moratorium is holding our industry back. As farmers, we want choice. As an organisation, we want choice – coexistence.

To date, there has been no evidence of our ‘GM’ competitors suffering any form of market access restrictions, or price discounts as a result of growing GM crops. Sadly, Australian agriculture is being left behind in regard to GM research and technology.

How ludicrous is it that Australia imported GM Canola this season, yet we cannot grow it. It defies logic that a GM product can be imported, processed, sold and consumed within our shores, and yet as farmers, we cannot grow or sell the product. The canola importer worked closely with customers and successfully sold all the meal and oil produced from the seed. End products were meal for stock feed, canola oil for food products and biodiesel.

With the unknown consequences of climate change, continued threat of frost damage, pressure to reduce input costs, drought cycles, and a focus to improve yields, we still do not have state political support to embrace one technology which will assist grain production. Hence, scientific effort has stagnated and we, as farmers must concentrate our efforts to ensure that our state is able to see the benefits of this technology and can allow us to embrace the productivity gains available. With the current moratorium due to end in early 2008, we hope common sense prevails within the State Government and GM technology becomes an optional tool for grain growers.

Australian farmers can then choose whether they grow GM crops, in fact some growers may even find a niche for non- GM products as experienced in the organic industry but it will be up to the forces of a free market NOT emotion and the ill-informed. We know there is still much research that will be done, but for goodness sakes, let’s get on with it.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  CONFERENCE AGENDA 2007

SOURCE: Victorian Farmers Federation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.vff.org.au/main/images/aboutus/VFF%20Conf%20Ag%2007.pdf

DATE:   21.06.2007

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CONFERENCE AGENDA 2007

Resolution 14

VFF Rupanyup Branch

MOVED:

“That the VFF calls for the State Government to allow the moratorium on commercial production of GM crops to sunset on February 29th 2008, without renewal.”

Notes:

1. Victorian farmers should have access to similar or better varieties, as their overseas competitors, whether it be for yield, disease resistance or weed and pest control.

2. Victorian farmers should be given a chance to choose whether they wish to grow GM crops.

Resolution 15

Warragul & District

MOVED: 

“That the VFF support the government's current moratorium on commercial GM canola subject to further research and review at the VFF conference in 2008.”

VFF Note: The moratorium is due to sunset in February 2008.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  SHIRE PUSH AGAINST GM

SOURCE: Ranges Trader Mail, Australia

AUTHOR: Tania Martin

URL:    http://www.starnewsgroup.com.au/story/45438

DATE:   17.07.2007

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SHIRE PUSH AGAINST GM

THE Shire of Yarra Ranges is calling for local governments to have a say in the review of the moratorium on genetically modified canola in a bid to stay GM free.

Lyster Ward councillor Samantha Dunn last week called for the shire to write to the State Government to show the council’s opposition to GM crops.

The State Government introduced a moratorium on GM canola in March 2004 which is set to expire in February next year unless a new ban is introduced.

The moratorium was introduced after farmers raised concerns over the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator’s (OGTR) decision to approve two GM canola crop varieties.

A spokesman for the State Government said a panel had been appointed to review the moratorium on GM canola and that it was currently consulting key stakeholders and would be inviting public submissions before preparing a final report.

The Shire of Yarra Ranges is now calling for local governments to be recognised as a key stakeholder in the GM debate.

Cr Dunn said there was very little recognition for local government in the debate and that needs to change.

”It’s the councils that have to bear the brunt if something goes wrong – we should be able to have our say.”

Ryrie Ward councillor Jeanette McRae said the council needed to make its voice heard on the issue so that it can continue to be clean and green.

The council last year experienced its lack of power regarding the introduction of GM crops when it tried and failed to halt a trial for GM blue roses in Silvan.

In April the OGTR approved a trial to allow Japanese multinational company Florigene Suntori to grow GM blue roses at Australian Roses in Silvan despite the council’s opposition.

The council campaigned for months to get the ruling overturned because it wanted to uphold its 2001 policy to oppose all GM crops in the shire.

But despite the council’s concerns that the trial would threaten its clean and green reputation, the trial is proceeding.

Cr Dunn said it was now important for the State Government to give local councils more say on the issue.

She said if the Shire of Yarra Ranges had more say on the rose trial it would never have been approved.

”I think councils should be able to have a say in whether they stay GM free,” she said.

Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato has also voiced her opposition to GM crops to Parliament.

Ms Lobato said GM crops posed a massive legal and financial risk to farmers.

She claimed in a recent letter to the Mail no-one wanted to eat GM food and that the health and environmental consequences were not fully known and have not been adequately tested. Ms Lobato says the introduction of GM crops would be a massive experiment that would make every Victorian a guinea pig. She has put together information packs on GM crops and has urged people to voice their concerns now.

”We must keep Victoria GM free,” she said.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  THE CASE AGAINST GMOS IN THE SHIRE OF YARRA RANGE

SOURCE: Yarra Range Shire Council, Australia

AUTHOR: Fact Sheet

URL:    http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1184677626-GMO_Fact_Sheet.pdf

DATE:   01.01.2006

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THE CASE AGAINST GMOS IN THE SHIRE OF YARRA RANGE

The Shire of Yarra Ranges is opposing a decision by the Gene Technology Regulator to allow the trial of a genetically modified blue rose to take place in the Yarra Ranges.

The decision to allow Florigene Limited to grow a genetically modified rose is in spite of strong opposition from the council, which in February 2001 adopted a policy opposing the introduction of GMO crops into the shire.

The Gene Technology Regulator disregarded the council’s written submission against the trial and its official policy opposing GMOs. The council’s policy was developed following widespread community concerns about the growing of GMO crops in the Yarra Ranges.

Yarra Ranges’ agricultural produce is regarded as some of the finest in the world. The trialling of a new genetically modified rose poses a significant threat to the region’s agricultural and horticultural producers, our precious biodiversity and clean and green reputation.

Horticultural production in the shire is worth an estimated $710 million per annum with the nursery and cut flower sectors worth about $390 million and the orchard and berry fruit industries about $110 million (source Centre for eBusiness and Communications Swinburne University).

The council’s objection to GMOs is not just based on philosophical concerns; we have major concerns on scientific grounds and the potential impact on our farmers and horticultural industries.

Not enough is known about the potential effects of a genetically modified rose on insect life including native and exotic pollinating insects, its potential for recombinant viruses and the level of gene flow with other rose cultivars and potential weediness from altered genes.

It is the council’s belief that these issues have not been adequately addressed by the Gene Technology Regulator and as a result the council is calling for its decision to be reversed.

Australia’s environment is littered with the introduction of new species that have gone wrong from rabbits and foxes to failed biological controls such as the cane toad. The Yarra Ranges’ environment and its agricultural sector are too precious to risk with a trial of this nature.

 

WHAT WE ARE DOING

The council will write to the Gene Technology Regulator, Dr Sue Meeks, requesting that she reverse her decision. Letters will also be sent to the federal Minister for Health and Ageing and to local state and federal MP’s outlining the council’s opposition to genetically modified crops in the Yarra Ranges.

The council will continue to advocate with other levels of government and stakeholders to establish the shire as a GE free zone and is calling for the mandatory labelling on all products produced using gene technology.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

If you are opposed to the trial of a genetically modified blue rose in the Shire of Yarra Ranges you can write to the Gene Technology Regulator, Dr Sue Meeks care of the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, PO Box 100 Woden, ACT 2606, and to your local federal and state Members of Parliament expressing your concerns about the trialling of GMO crops in the Yarra Ranges.

Contact details for Federal Members of Parliament:

Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott GPO Box 9848 Canberra ACT 2601

Tony.Abbott.MP@aph.gov.au

The Hon Fran Bailey 237 Maroondah Highway Healesville 3777 Fran.Bailey.MP@aph.gov.au

Tony Smith Suite 1, 16-18 Croydon Road Croydon 3136 Tony.Smith.MP@aph.gov.au

Jason Wood 83 Boronia Road Boronia 3155 Jason.Wood.MP@aph.gov.au

 

WHAT’S AT STAKE

- Some of the state’s most significant biodiversity with important flora and fauna.

- A thriving agricultural sector renowned for its premium quality food and produce and a major

employer of the region’s people.

Yarra Ranges Agricultural Sector Statistics

The agricultural sector employs about 4000 people on a permanent basis with a further 6000

seasonal employees. It is a major generator of jobs and money in the local, state and national

economies.

Nursery Sector

93 businesses generating a Gross Value of Production of $290M per annum (”Farming Real

Estate” Centre for eBusiness and Communications Swinburne University)

Cut Flower Sector

73 businesses generating GVP of $100M per annum

Orchard Fruit Industry

50 businesses generating GVP of $50M per annum (industry sources)

Berry Fruit Industry

93 businesses $60M per annum (industry sources)

Wine Grapes

113 businesses generating approximately $150 to $200M per annum

Vegetable Growers

47 businesses $10M per annum

Sources: Centre for eBusiness and Communications Swinburne University 2000 and ABS

Shire of Yarra Ranges Economic Development Profile 2005.



                                  PART 5

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TITLE:  UDV MEMBERS CAST THEIR VOTE ON GM

SOURCE: Victorian Farmers Federation, Australia

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.vff.org.au/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=334&Itemid=49

DATE:   20.06.2007

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UDV MEMBERS CAST THEIR VOTE ON GM

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria members have made their decision on the organisation’s policy on Genetic Modification.

Almost 200 delegates to yesterday’s 32nd annual UDV Conference have voted for a pro-choice future for GM in the dairy industry.

A resolution on GM has been on the table since the 2006 UDV Conference – that the UDV support choice of GM technology in the dairy industry.

An amendment to that motion was put and carried at the Conference, ”that the UDV adopt the draft ADIC GM technology policy as its official policy whilst recognising the marketing requirements of the dairy industry.”

Members debated the motion for almost an hour, and it was carried by an overwhelming majority.

UDV Central Councillor Max Jelbart said after waiting since the 2006 Conference to continue the debate, he was pleased that members had decided on a pro-choice policy.

”With the State Government’s moratorium on GM due to expire February 2008, it was crucial that UDV members decided their position on GM at this conference,” Mr Jelbart said.

Mr Jelbart said alarmist statements that milk would be contaminated by GM were unfounded, with credible scientific research proving that any genetically modified plant material was broken down in the animals’ digestive system, and is not present in milk.

He said the motion adopted by UDV members at conference takes into account the importance of markets and recognises the role of the factories in determining their own marketing requirements.


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