http://www.planorganic.com - new guide, information, debate and comment site on all matters organic
GM breach proves need for five-year freeze
May 2 AAP
Workers at a genetically modified canola trial in South Australia had been inadvertently taking seeds home in their clothes and shoes, conservationists said today.
They said the incident was a breach of international guidelines and showed the federal government must impose a five-year freeze on GM testing in Australia. The Organic Federation of Australia said workers at the Aventis Crop Sciences site at Mount Gambier, in South Australia, had not been told they were harvesting genetically modified crops.
Spokesman Scott Kinnear said workers were taking on average 50 canola seeds off the trial site on their shoes every day, and did not wear protective clothing. Mr Kinnear said it was the third time Aventis had breached GM guidelines and it should have its licence removed. "This is a clear indication that Aventis is not fit to hold a licence when the Gene Technology Bill becomes activated on June 21," he said. Mr Kinnear said the incident also showed that voluntary regulation of the industry was totally unacceptable. "We would have expected that the federal government would have been requiring workers to wear protective clothing, or would be taking a very close interest in how these field trials are harvested," he said. "Again we say these field trials should be stopped, and our broader view is a five-year freeze (of the trials) at least."
Bob Phelps, director of the Australian Conservation Fund Gene Ethics Network, said the Mount Gambier incident was further proof of the need for a freeze and the introduction of GE free-zones. He said this would enable the government and industry to "get this new technology under control and out of our environment". "We only have one go at this, so let's get it right the first time, and staying GE free is obviously the right thing to do at the moment," Mr Phelps said. After June 21, the government will release details of all GM trial locations and companies must apply for licences to the GM regulator. Comment is being sought from Aventis Crop Sciences.