27/11/2007 - 14:08

Chance persists with GM ban as NSW, Vic change

27/11/2007 - 14:08

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Labor governments in NSW and Victoria announced today plans to lift their moratoria on genetically modified canola production, but their stance has not softened the opposition of Western Australian agriculture minister Kim Chance to GM crops.

Chance persists with GM ban as NSW, Vic change

Labor governments in NSW and Victoria announced today plans to lift their moratoria on genetically modified canola production, but their stance has not softened the opposition of Western Australian agriculture minister Kim Chance to GM crops.
Mr Chance responded to the news by calling on his interstate counterparts to maintain their moratoria on GM crops.
He said Australian farmers currently produced food of the highest quality and safety for both local consumption and export to a range of overseas markets.
"We are heavily reliant on our export markets and lifting the GM moratorium could jeopardise this trade relationship," Mr Chance said.
Farm lobby group WAFarmers said the east coast initiatives reinforced its view that the WA government should follow suit.
WAFarmers president Trevor De Landgrafft said: "WA growers have not only been left behind by their overseas competitors in recent years, but now also face the real risk of falling behind their interstate colleagues if the State Government persists with its moratorium"..
"WAFarmers welcomes the leadership shown by the New South Wales and Victorian Governments and will watch with interest to see how things pan out in relation to the 2008/09 cropping season.
"This development provides some much needed impetus to drive Minister Chance's GM Stakeholder Reference Group, which has floundered of late due to a lack of direction," Mr De Landgrafft said.

A Kim Chance statement is pasted below:

WA and Tasmania urge states to maintain GM moratoria

Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance and Tasmania Primary Industries and Water Minister David Llewellyn have jointly called on Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia to maintain their moratorium on the commercial production of Genetically Modified (GM) crops.
The Ministers urged the governments of these States to respect the wishes of Australian consumers, food manufacturers and farmers for the moratoria to be maintained.
"If Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia lift their GM moratoria, it will increase the risks to WA and Tasmania's GM-free agriculture and threaten Australia's overseas markets," Mr Chance said.
"Opening up other parts of Australia to GM crops could lead to large-scale contamination, subsequent risks to market access and price premiums currently enjoyed by Australian canola farmers, while imposing higher costs on them for product segregation."
Mr Llewellyn said that the likelihood of contamination of non-GM canola crops throughout Australia would undoubtedly be increased by any decision to lift the moratorium.
"In 2004, GM canola managed to contaminate crops in all canola growing States of Australia, despite the fact that each State had a moratorium in place," he said.
The Ministers said the safest and most secure future for Australia's farmers and consumers was in the production and consumption of GM-free foods and not in pursuing GM food crops that had been rejected by consumers because of health concerns.
Mr Chance said Australian farmers currently produced food of the highest quality and safety for both local consumption and export to a range of overseas markets.
"We are heavily reliant on our export markets and lifting the GM moratorium could jeopardise this trade relationship," he said.
Mr Llewellyn said it could damage Australia's international reputation as a source of reliable, safe and GM-free food.
"Clearly Australian consumers are concerned about the food they eat, and value Australia's "clean and green, GM-free' status," he said.
In Tasmania, there is currently a Joint Select Committee reviewing its GMO moratorium, which is due to end in mid-2008.
Mr Llewellyn indicated that it was very untimely for New South Wales and Victoria to lift their bans following Federal Labor's win in the election, as this was an area of national policy that needed to be reviewed for the Australian brand and market advantage internationally.
"Unless consumers tell us otherwise, WA will not be changing its policy on GM food," Mr Chance said.
"The moratorium supports Australia's 'clean and green' status and is also reflective of overwhelming public opinion in WA and consumer sentiment around the world.

A WAFarmers statement is pasted below:

"Today's announcement by the New South Wales and Victorian Governments that they are ending their moratorium on Genetically Modified canola crops reinforces the Western Australian industries position that our Government should follow suit.
WAFarmers President Trevor De Landgrafft said "WA growers have not only been left behind by their overseas competitors in recent years, but now also face the real risk of falling behind their interstate colleagues if the State Government persists with its moratorium.
"WAFarmers welcomes the leadership shown by the New South Wales and Victorian Governments and will watch with interest to see how things pan out in relation to the 2008/09 cropping season.
"This development provides some much needed impetus to drive Minister Chance's GM Stakeholder Reference Group, which has floundered of late due to a lack of direction," Mr De Landgrafft said.
Recent reports from ABARE and several academic institutions clearly demonstrate the environmental, economic and social benefits of GM technology.
"These highly credible reports now need to be given the serious consideration they deserve.
"Australia's regulatory system is acknowledged as the most thorough in the world and provides the assurances needed in relation to human and environmental health and safety.
"There is no reason that the WA Government should not follow the leadership demonstrated by their interstate counterparts and keep WA growers on an equal footing in relation to access to technology."
WA growers face unique challenges through climate change, poor quality soils, and salinity; which are being addressed by Western Australian researchers. To lose this level of expertise because of opportunities that will arise in the eastern states and will not be available locally because of the continuation of the State moratorium would be a disaster.
"Like growers, WA researchers need to be supported by the State Government," said Mr De Landgrafft.

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