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GMO-FREE REGIONS & REGULATION: New South Wales (Australia) extends GM crop moratorium until 2021



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   CCP SUPPORTS GM MORATORIUM EXTENSION BILL

SOURCE:  Fred Nile, MP Christian Democratic Party New South Wales, Australia

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.cdp.org.au/federal-media-release/862-cdp-supports-gm-moratorium-extension-bill.html

DATE:    18.06.2011

SUMMARY: "?On behalf of the Christian Democratic Party I support the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment (Postponement of Expiry) Bill 2011. I remember the heated debates in this House when the original bill was introduced in 2003. [...] As other members have said, GM crops need to be subject to careful regulation, which is enforced by the Commonwealth. Careful regulation is needed to ensure that buffer zones are maintained and non-GM crops on organic farms are protected. This regulation must be dealt with calmly and scientifically, with no fear campaigns."

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CCP SUPPORTS GM MORATORIUM EXTENSION BILL

 

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http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/NSWBills.nsf/d2117e6bba4ab3ebca256e68000a0ae2/44f01ff64b9c60e0ca2578a0001bbb1b?OpenDocument

Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment (Postponement of Expiry) Bill 2011

Assented on 21/06/2011 - Act No 17 of 2011.

Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment (Postponement of Expiry) Bill 2011

Clause 1 The Legislature of New South Wales enacts:

1 Name of Act This Act is the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment

(Postponement of Expiry) Act 2011.

2 Commencement This Act commences on the date of assent to this Act.

3 Amendment of Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2003 No 12

Section 43 Expiry of Act Omit ?1 July 2011?. Insert instead ?1 July 2021?.

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The Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC, Leader of the Christian Democratic Party, has supported the ?Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment (Postponement of Expiry) Bill 2011? in the NSW Upper House

?On behalf of the Christian Democratic Party I support the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment (Postponement of Expiry) Bill 2011. I remember the heated debates in this House when the original bill was introduced in 2003. I agree that the Hon. Ian Macdonald deserves a pat on the back for pursuing this approach, in spite of a tremendous amount of criticism directed against the policy and against him personally. This amending bill will remove the expiry date of the Act of 1 July 2011 and extend it for a further 10 years, to 1 July 2021. As other members have said, GM crops need to be subject to careful regulation, which is enforced by the Commonwealth. Careful regulation is needed to ensure that buffer zones are maintained and non-GM crops on organic farms are protected. This regulation must be dealt with calmly and scientifically, with no fear campaigns. Hopefully the various trials that are underway will provide further evidence of where GM crops can be grown and t
 heir benefit to the community. If the expiry date in this Act were not extended, GM food plants would be cultivated in New South Wales without requiring approval by the State Government. That would be the worst possible outcome. Extending the Act for 10 years imposes a blanket prohibition on the commercial cultivation of GM food plants in New South Wales?, said Rev Fred Nile.

?The Minister for Primary Industries has the power to approve the commercial cultivation of specific GM food crops only if certain criteria are met by the applicant. For that reason we need careful regulation of GM crops. In March 2008 GM canola was approved for commercial cultivation in New South Wales. The moratorium on all other GM food plants remains in place. GM cotton is the only other GM crop grown in New South Wales but as it is not a food plant it is not subject to this legislation. As we always take note of the views of the NSW Farmers Association, I am pleased that it has confirmed its support for GM crops-although some members of The Nationals in this place have some reservations. The NSW Farmers Association has also confirmed its support to extend the Act for a further 10 years. Reducing the time frame to a period of less than 10 years poses an unnecessary administrative burden and offers less certainty for the industry and the community. We are pleased to suppor
 t the bill?, Rev Nile stated.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   NSW?S FAILED GM CROP

SOURCE:  Business Spectator, Australia

AUTHOR:  David Leyonhjelm

URL:     http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/GM-genetically-modified-crops-NSW-canola-agribusin-pd20110630-JB3LY?OpenDocument&src=sph&src=rot

DATE:    30.06.2011

SUMMARY: "In early June a bill was introduced in the New South Wales parliament to extend the moratorium on genetically modified crops for a further ten years. It passed quickly, facing no opposition in either house. The bill retains the power of the NSW government to block the cultivation of genetically modified crops after they have been approved by the Commonwealth government. In fact, there is a blanket prohibition on the cultivation of all GM food crops unless they have been specifically approved by the minister for primary industries."

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NSW?S FAILED GM CROP

David Leyonhjelm works in the agribusiness and veterinary markets as principal of Baron Strategic Services and Baron Senior Placements.

In early June a bill was introduced in the New South Wales parliament to extend the moratorium on genetically modified crops for a further ten years. It passed quickly, facing no opposition in either house.

The bill retains the power of the NSW government to block the cultivation of genetically modified crops after they have been approved by the Commonwealth government. In fact, there is a blanket prohibition on the cultivation of all GM food crops unless they have been specifically approved by the minister for primary industries.

The legislation is said to be consistent with a 2001 agreement between the Commonwealth and states which means the Commonwealth ensures genetically modified organisms are safe for people and the environment while the NSW government oversees ?market or trade issues?. If that makes no sense to you, you?re not the only one.

Despite the lack of opposition, quite a few members had something to say about the bill. There were speakers from the government, opposition and minor parties.

Government speakers implied the bill was needed to pacify still-fearful stakeholders, while arguing it provided a ?clear path to market?, as recommended by an expert review in 2007. They also claimed it was consistent with the NSW Farmers Association?s desire to provide choice for growers to produce whichever crop they wish and its suggestion that the legislation may be unnecessary in ten years? time.

The opposition acknowledged the aim was to ?preserve the identity of genetically modified and non-genetically modified crops for marketing purposes?, but then recited a long list of supposed health and environment risks of GM crops, none of which had anything to do with markets.

One opposition spokesman said that as a former consulting agronomist, he thought the objectives of the GM industry could be achieved ?by improving the science in agriculture?, particularly by rectifying mineral deficiencies in the soil. He saw this as an alternative to genetic modification. Another said caution was justified to avoid a similar situation to cane toads.

The Greens said the bill should restrict GM crop cultivation even further. Their concern, among others, was the potential for ?contamination? by GM canola of non-GM crops, particularly organic crops. They supported the idea of farmers having a choice as long as it did not include genetic modification.

GM crops have been grown in Australia since 1996. In 2010 they were grown in twenty-nine countries by 15.4 million farmers on 148 million hectares. Yet somehow, none of that seemed to be relevant. The NSW parliament has decided to operate in a parallel universe.

Several speakers stated that canola was the only GM food crop grown in NSW, apparently unaware that cottonseed oil from GM cotton is used for cooking. Nobody seemed to understand that GM food and ingredients are imported, competing with local produce.

Despite airy statements about support for agriculture, nobody gave any thought to the impact of the bill on international competitiveness. Several mentioned that only 8 per cent of canola grown in NSW is genetically modified, while 70 per cent of the canola traded worldwide is genetically modified, but nobody saw any problem with that.

A couple of people mentioned the potential of gene technology in positive terms, including the possibilities of wheat with more nutritional starch content, salt-tolerant wheat, sugarcane with altered sugar content, pineapples resistant to blackheart and virus-resistant papaya. But nobody drew any direct connection between these and the bill.

Similarly, nobody tried to reconcile the supposed clear path to market with the fact that the minister continues to have the right of veto over whether a GM crop can be grown and that gaining such approval is strewn with obstacles.

On that, the Act requires the industry to demonstrate it has identified the requirements of key domestic and international markets, identify the threshold levels for accidental or unintended presence of GM traits in food plants, establish a supply chain management process to address accidental or unintended presence thresholds, and show it has obtained any relevant approvals or other authorisations regarding the importation of GM food.

Fairly obviously, this means a group of entrepreneurial growers wanting, in the future, to take up an opportunity to grow a GM crop already found by the Commonwealth to be safe, will still face immense barriers ? including convincing their own industry to support them. It requires neither brains nor courage to say no to them.

The NSW government has limited expertise in agricultural trade and almost none in international trade. That would not be a problem if it allowed markets to operate normally. The only reason it got involved in regulating GM crops was because of fears that canola growers would lose market access. As one speaker acknowledged, that has not eventuated and fears have subsided. But getting a government to stop regulating something is a lot more difficult than getting it to start.

As I have written previously (Productivity drought slows agriculture, May 9), declining productivity in agriculture is quite a problem. The former Chief Scientist of Australia, Robin Batterham, recently told a conference that our national security may depend on growing more food to feed expanding populations, so as to limit civil unrest resulting from rising prices. And yet our productivity growth has been zero to negative for years.

A recent Australia Farm Institute study of private sector investment in agricultural research and development recommended the removal of restrictions on GM crop development and the rationalisation of GM crop R&D approval processes, to help address this.

Yet a GM crop that is confirmed to be safe by the Commonwealth cannot be grown in NSW without ministerial approval, with fines up to $137,500 and two years? imprisonment for anyone who does so. Departmental inspectors also have the power to enter and inspect premises to determine whether the Act is being complied with.

Australian agriculture faces many obstacles, including droughts, floods, pests, fires and the vagaries of currency fluctuations and long distance freight. But none of these compare to ignorant, interfering governments. They are in a class of their own.