[genet-news] GMO-FREE REGIONS & POLICY: Western Australian Donnybrook-Balingup Shire says ”no” to GE canola trials
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TITLE: ?NO? TO GM TRIALS
SOURCE: Donnybrook - Bridgetown Mail, Australia
AUTHOR: Nina Smith
SUMMARY: "AN application by Monsanto to run field trials of genetically modified canola in the Donnybrook-Balingup Shire between March 2011 and December 2014 was unanimously opposed by shire councillors at their last meeting. [...] Donnybrook-Balingup is one of 127 local government authorities across the country to be identified as a possible site for the trials."
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?NO? TO GM TRIALS
Council rebuffs Monsanto move
AN application by Monsanto to run field trials of genetically modified (GM) canola in the Donnybrook-Balingup Shire between March 2011 and December 2014 was unanimously opposed by shire councillors at their last meeting.
The purpose of the trial was to evaluate agronomic performance of the GM canola line under field conditions, with no material from the trial to be used in human or animal feed, according to the meeting minutes,.
Donnybrook-Balingup is one of 127 local government authorities across the country to be identified as a possible site for the trials.
Two of those sites will be planted in the first year, up to eight in the second and third years and 20 in the fourth year.
Councillors voted unanimously to adopt the precautionary principle and advise the Office of Gene Technolo-gy Regulator (OGTR) that it opposed such trials due to the uncertainties and potential impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on health, environment and agriculture in the shire district.
The meeting was attended by a group of local organic farmers, who applauded the decision.
Gavin Edwards of Balingup Sustainable Small Farm, who is setting up a seed business to supply organic farmers, said he would lose 20 years worth of seed collecting if GM trials went ahead in the Shire, as organic farmers would not be able to risk buying their seed from him.
Mr Edwards said while organic farmers could be at risk of losing their certification if the trials went ahead, many others would be affected.
He said people attempting to grow their own vegetables risked them being contaminated by GM material.
?A lot of people who aren?t organic will be objecting to GM too,? he said.
Gavin and his partner Lisa McAndrew plan to run a Stop GM campaign in the shire, and will be circulating petitions in support of the shire?s decision in Donnybrook and Balingup this week.
However, the council admitted at its meeting that it has limited jurisdiction to stop the trials from going ahead.
The meeting minutes highlighted that while the shire is currently a GMO-free area, there appeared to be no mechanism ? other than politics ? for them to prevent GMO activities within the shire. The authority rested with the OGTR to determine if it permitted the GM material to be grown or cultivated. While the minutes also stated Agriculture Minister Terry Redman determined where GM crops may be grown, the minister distanced himself from the issue.
?Field trials for new GM varieties are approved by the OGTR, and the minister does not have any input in that process,? said a spokesman for Mr Redman?s office . ?As part of the approval process the OGTR consults with the local government where the trial is proposed to be held.?
He said field trials would cover about four hectares. ?The reason why the minister had to grant an exemption order for the GM canola trials last year was because they were on a commercial scale (between 30 and 70ha),? he said.
However, the council does have the option of precluding or controlling GM crops from being grown within the shire under land use planning regulations.
Shire president Steve Dilley said at the meeting that changing a designated land use class through the town planning scheme, a course pursued by some other shires, was an option.
Opposition agriculture spokesman Mick Murray called for everyone in the community who opposed GM trials to write to the OGTR expressing their concerns and supporting the shire?s decision.
?This week I was at a Kojonup meeting between organic and GM growers, where management concerns of the existing crops were right at the top of the agenda,? Mr Murray said.
?Already some legal action has been taken to try and help the organic growers so they are not contaminated by GM anytime in the future.
?The GM product is moving forward without proper regulations in place and now it is being left to farmers to fight each other through the court system.?
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