GENET archive


GMO-FREE REGIONS & PRODUCTS: Government of Victoria (Australia)announces panel to review GE canola moratorium

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Make-up of GM ban review panel announced
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
AUTHOR: Australian Associated Press
DATE:   22.05.2007

Make-up of GM ban review panel announced

The make-up of an independent panel that will undertake a four-month
review of Victoria's ban on genetically modified (GM) crops has been

Scientist and former Australian of the Year, Professor Sir Gustav
Nossal, will chair the panel which will make a key recommendation on
whether the state's GM moratorium should continue beyond its expiry date
early next year.

Also on the panel are Southern Regional Panel for the Grains Research
and Development Corporation member Merna Curnow, and former Victorian
Catchment Management Council chairwoman Christine Forster.

"The panel will consult key stakeholders and invite public submissions
before preparing a report to government later this year," Premier Steve
Bracks said.

"It is vital that we consider carefully, what impact permitting the
commercial release of GM canola would have on our producers and exporters."

Victoria's GM moratorium expires on February 29, 2008.

The state moved to ban the commercial growing of GM canola in 2004.

Moratoriums are also in place in all Australian states and territories
except Queensland and the Northern Territory.

NSW's and South Australia's moratoriums also expire in early 2008.

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Nossal to head GM canola crop study
SOURCE: The Australian, Australia
0.	AUTHOR: Michael Davis
0.	DATE:   23.05.2007

Nossal to head GM canola crop study

PROMINENT scientist Gustav Nossal will head an independent panel
appointed by the Bracks Government yesterday to review Victoria's
moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically modified canola.

Although the Howard Government has already signalled its support for the
planting of GM canola, Mr Bracks said Victoria was adopting a more
cautious approach.

The federal Government regulates the health and environment risks
associated with GM crops, while the states assess trade and market issues.

Moratoriums are in place in all states and territories except Queensland
and the Northern Territory. The moratoriums in NSW and South Australia,
like Victoria's, expire early next year, so the states will be closely
watching the outcome of the Victorian review.

"This panel is the next step in the Victorian Government's careful and
considered approach to the use of gene technology," Mr Bracks said.

Sir Gustav said it was important that neither he nor the other two
members of the panel had a formed position on the issue.

"I will say as a scientist I am conscious of the benefits that GM
technology can bring to crop production and many other areas," Sir
Gustav said. "But that's not the issue at stake.

"Our terms of reference very much ask one specific question: will the
lifting of this particular moratorium at the end of the four-year period
be a help or a hindrance to Victoria's producers and exporters?"

The other two members of the review panel are Merna Curnow, a former
chair of the Victorian Farmers Federation education committee, and
Christine Forster, a water expert and farmer in Victoria's western district.

The panel will invite public submissions before preparing a report for
the Government later this year.

The current four-year moratorium expires in February next year. It was
introduced in March 2004 under the Control of Genetically Modified Crops Act.

Under a national agreement, the federal Office of the Gene Technology
Regulator has responsibility for assessing the potential human health
and environmental risks associated with genetically modified crops.

The regulator approved two GM canola varieties listed under the
moratorium of 2004 after it found they posed no greater risk to human
health or the environment than conventionally bred canola.

Mr Bracks said that although GM canola had been approved at a federal
level, the focus in Victoria had always been on what impact the use of
GM technology would have on trading capacity and market access.

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                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Vic GM Review Panel: No independence or expertise
AUTHOR: Gene Ethics, Australia, Press Release
DATE:   22.05.2007

Vic GM Review Panel: No independence or expertise

Premier Bracks today announced a panel to review the ban on GM canola in
Victoria [Australia].

"The panel announced today to review Victoria's ban on commercial
genetically manipulated (GM) canola is neither independent nor expert,"
says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.

"The panellists are keen supporters of GM crops and foods who have
promoted it for many years," he says.

"And none are expert in trade or marketing issues, the main focus of the
review," he says.

"The panel has no expert capacity or experience to consider the impact
of commercial GM canola release on producers and exporters," he says.

"Their expertise and experience is in science, agriculture and rural and
regional development issues - all outside the trade and marketing focus
of the review," he says

"The Bracks government has set up a panel to recommend fast tracking GM
crops into our environment and onto our plates," he says.

"They set the scene to end the GM canola ban over the objections of most
Victorian farmers and shoppers, the vast majority of whom want GM-free
foods on the farm, in the shops and on the dinner table," he says.

"An end to the Victorian ban would also upstage the bans in four other
states and the ACT as GM canola contamination will be no respecter of
state boundaries. GM-free Australia and the benefits that can bring
would be finished," he says.

"We call for a panel that fairly reflects the breadth of public views on
GM and has real expertise in the topic, to redress the pro-GM bias of
the group announced today," he says.

"Panel chairperson Gus Nossal is a retired medical researcher who
publicly advocates GM food and crops, and has done so for many years,"
Mr Phelps says.

"Panel member Merna Curnow is from the Grains Research and Development
Corporation (GRDC) which spends at least $100,000 a year to promote
acceptance of GM," he says.

"Merna was also an officer of the Victorian Farmers Federation when it
actively campaigned against the GM bans," he says.

"As the ban is almost five years old, we also call for a review of new
evidence on health and environment impacts of GM crops and foods since
the licences were issued.," he says

"Victoria's strong record on clean green GM-free foods will be in
tatters if the GM canola ban ends," he says.

"A new ban order should be signed to extend the ban till 2013, at
least," Mr Phelps concludes.

More comment: Bob Phelps 03 9347 4500 or 0408 195 099

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