According to this article, the Federal Government appears ready to concede opt-out rights on GMO releases to states and territories like Tasmania that want a moratorium. Good news, if true, for those who think science, technology and business need to be made far more democratically accountable but note, "there were still some points requiring clarification and the exact wording of the amendments had not been completed."
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The commonwealth has loosened its controls over genetic food and plant trials by conceding the states and territories important opt-out rights
AAP NEWSFEED 6 November , 2000, Australian General News
by Don Woolford
Hobart, 6 November- The Tasmanian government, which has been leading the push for stronger rights under the proposed federal Gene Technology Bill, said today the states and territories could now determine their own future on genetically modified organisms ( GMOs) . Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn said the bill, which is expected to go to the Senate this week, would be amended to comply with a deal reached between state and federal officials in Canberra last week.
The deal ends a standoff between Tasmania and the federal government since the state unilaterally declared a 12-month moratorium of dubious, though unchallenged, constitutional validity on GMO trials while it conducts its own inquiry.
Under the agreement, the federal Gene Technology Regulator (which will be created by the bill) will be obliged to take account of state or territory submissions opposing a GMO release on environmental grounds. States and territories also would have the right to appeal against a determination of the regulator to the Administrative Decisions Judicial Appeals Tribunal.
Beyond that, Mr Llewellyn said the states and territories had the right to opt out of commodity-specific GMO releases, or releases in specific zones, on marketing grounds. He said that while there were still some points requiring clarification and the exact wording of the amendments had not been completed, he believed the deal could enable Tasmania to be GE-free if that was what its government decided after its inquiry was completed.
A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge confirmed the agreement had been reached. She said it gave the states more powers within a federal framework. However some of the processing for declaring GE-free zones on marketing grounds were still being worked out. "It will be
a tight process," she said. "We don't want it to be abused and it won't be open slather."
[Entered November 6, 2000]