9 April 2003
OZ BENDING OVER FOR OVERSEAS INTERESTS
Elsewhere in Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia are considering declaring their entire State GM free, and the South Australian Government made an election commitment similar to NSW to introduce GM free zones across the State. (item 2)
* GM Canola Has Us Bending Over For Overseas Interests
* Three year wait for GM canola
* GM crops: farmer advises caution
* Australia Grain-GM canola to stage shy debut
GM Canola Has Us Bending Over For Overseas Interests
Sydney Morning Herald April 3, 2003
As seen with our involvement in the war on Iraq, the Federal Government is again beholden to overseas interests over Australia's ("All-clear given for GM canola", Herald, April 2).
The biotechnology industry mouthpiece, the Commonwealth gene technology regulator, is placing Australian non-GM canola farmers' livelihoods at serious risk through licensing foreign multinationals to grow GM canola here canola which will contaminate non-GM crops up to an 11-kilometre radius. The Premier, Bob Carr, will save NSW with his three-year ban on GM crops, but let us see other state premiers follow suit and give this attempt to destroy the future of Australia's non-GM farmers the failure it deserves. Diane Davie, Annandale, April 2.
By approving genetically modified canola at this time, it seems obvious that Australia's gene technology regulator is taking advantage of the focus on war to slip a fast one past the people. Ruthe Rendely, North Bondi, April 2.
Can I expect to see a public display of Commonwealth gene technology regulator Dr Meek eating lots of food cooked in GM canola oil in the same way as during the mad cow disease disaster we saw the British minister practically force-feeding his granddaughter good old British beef? Kay Kowalski, Hornsby Heights, April 2.
GM canola approved?
I certainly don't approve of it.
Lisa Ferguson, Waverley, April 2.
Three year wait for GM canola
Cootamundra Herald, Australia, Apr 7, 2003
The NSW Government said its policy to place a three-year ban on the release of commercial genetically modified canola crops in the State had not changed.
This declaration came as the Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator, Dr Sue Meek, gave approval for a licence to be given for Bayer Crop Science (formerly Aventis) to commercially release GM Canola throughout Australia.
Dr Meek last week released for public comment a Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan on Bayer Crop Science's GM canola application, which will now face an eight week period of public scrutiny and comment until May 26. However, if no significant issues are raised concerning possible human health risks or risks to the environment then GM commercial canola crops could be grown in Australia as early as mid June this year.
Dr Meek said that the GM canola line to be released by Bayer Crop Science, known as InVigor, posed no greater risk to human safety or the environment than non-GM canola.
"As with the non-GM product, the genetically modified crop is of minimal risk," she said.
However, a spokesperson, for the NSW Minister of Agriculture Ian McDonald, said that the NSW Government's position to ban the commercial release of GM canola had not changed.
The spokesperson said that even if the Gene Technology Regulator came out in favour of growing GM crops in June, the canola sowing date for NSW, which is mid April to late May, would have passed, giving the government time to enact the GM ban in legislation.
At the beginning of March, NSW Premier Bob Carr said that if reelected his government would place a three-year ban on the commercial release of GM crops in NSW.
"This is an issue where these is some agreement between environmentalists and farmers. It is an emotive issue requiring further analysis before commercial GM crops are released in NSW," Mr Carr said.
NSW Premier Carr said that this legislation would be passed under the NSW Gene Technology Regulation Act to suspend the production of GM food crops until at least 2006.
Elsewhere in Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia are considering declaring their entire State GM free, and the South Australian Government made an election commitment similar to NSW to introduce GM free zones across the State.
However, the Queensland and Victorian State Governments have announced no intention to introduce such GM commercial canola bans.
Cootamundra Farmer Andrew Bell, who grows about 100 hectares of canola each year on his property "Bindinyah", said he certainly wasn't opposed to the idea of Genetic Modification, but was concerned about possible strings attached to the use of a company's commercial GM canola seeds.
"I'm wary of GM canola if the package we're being sold is owned by a chemical company, which requires a certain chemical or fertiliser for the GM seed that can only be obtained from that company," Mr Bell said. Mr Bell said that he was very much in favour of NSW Government's decision to place a three-year ban on the commercial release of GM canola in NSW. "Once the genie is out of the bottle we can't get it back inside."
GM crops: farmer advises caution
By Mark Filmer Thursday, 3 April 2003
The Central Western Daily Online, Australia
A MOLONG district farmer believes Australia is moving too rapidly towards the commercial release of genetically-modified canola seeds. Arthur Bowman, who produces wheat, cattle and oilseeds on 900 hectares near Molong, said Australia's farmers and regulatory authorities needed to proceed cautiously before adopting GM technology.
On Tuesday Australia's gene technology regulator released for public comment guidelines for growing GM canola after finding the crop posed no health or environmental risks.
Formal approval for the full commercial release of canola, which has been altered to make it resistant to a particular herbicide, is expected to follow in two to three months.
However, Mr Bowman said there was a need to "steady up" the introduction because farmers did not know enough about the new technology and its long-term impacts. He said most of the major food and grain marketing companies in Australia had said they did not want GM canola because of consumer resistance to GM products. Remaining GM free could give Australia significant market advantages, he said. "All I am about is saying steady as she goes, let's sort out the markets and get world acceptance," he said. "Why grow it just because America is growing it or Monsanto wants us to grow it?"
The State Government has placed a three-year ban on the general release of GM canola in NSW. However, Mr Bowman said NSW farms could easily be contaminated by GM seeds from Victoria, through farm machinery or interstate truck movements. Federal Opposition primary industries spokesman Kerry O'Brien warned Australia was about to get genetically modified crops without a system to segregate them. He said the Federal Government was still looking at how to separate GM and non-GM crops. Greenpeace yesterday said: "Based on the same risk assessment process, tobacco and chemicals like DDT would be considered safe and welcomed into our food chain."
Public submissions in response to the guidelines can be made to gene technology regulator up to May 26.
Australia Grain-GM canola to stage shy debut
Reuters Commodities News (Eng)
Friday, April 04, 2003
By Michael Byrnes
SYDNEY, April 4 (Reuters) - Conditional clearance for Australian farmers to grow genetically modified (GM) canola is expected to lead to a small 2003 crop with opinion remaining strongly divided on the transgenic plant's merit.
The clearance, handed down by Australia's Gene Technology Regulator on Tuesday subject to eight weeks of public consultation, has produced resigned acceptance by opponents of the technology that Australia will grow its first GM food crop.
"The path has been cleared for the introduction of genetically engineered canola into Australia," Greenpeace campaigner Jeremy Tager said, describing the regulator as throwing caution to the wind.
Australia's Gene Technology Regulator Sue Meek conditionally cleared an application by Germany's Bayer CropScience. Monsanto Co of the U.S. has also applied.
Only a small area would be commercially grown in 2003, in Victoria state, Bayer CropScience general manager bioscience Susie O'Neill said after Meek's announcement.
Bayer and Monsanto have each said they plan to release enough GM seed to cover only 5,000 hectares (12,360 acres) in 2003, a tiny fraction of the million hectares (2.471 million acres) or more which is normally planted to canola in Australia each year.
But industry leaders believe that GM canola will eventually become the dominant crop.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) said in a study released this week that Australia would grow larger GM canola crops in later years if significant problems did not emerge from the first crop.
"Farmers are all over the place on GM canola," Ian Donges, a large grain
grower and former president of the National Farmers Federation, commented to Reuters at this week's Grains Week annual conference.
The Grains Council of Australia (GCA), which represents growers, welcomed the decision.
"After nine months of exhaustive assessment, (Gene Technology Regulator Sue) Meek has found that GM canola poses no higher risk to human health and safety of the environment than conventional non-GM canola," GCA president Keith Perrett said.
The decision would provide an assurance for Australian grain growers who may be contemplating planting a GM crop, he said.
Not so, said the anti-GM Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF).
"This...plan does not consider the costs to farmers and the potential loss of markets," it said.
NCF estimates that the cost to farmers of segregating grain under a system of coexistence between GM and conventional canola at a minimum of 10 percent of the product value.
Farmers producing conventional canola would be forced to market their product as GM to remain viable, it said.
In contrast, ABARE said agronomic benefits to Australian production of GM canola would outweigh likely additional costs of compliance with GM market access restrictions.
Bayer CropScience has said its InVigor hybrid GM canola in Canada showed yield increases of 10 percent to 15 percent over conventional canola, as well as better weed control.
The public discussion period, which will end on May 26, will leave just enough time for some GM canola to be put in the ground before the end of the planting season around the end of June.
Rapid expansion of Australia's canola industry, to 2.4 million tonnes in 1999/00 from just 200,000 tonnes in 1991/92, has made it the world's second biggest exporter after Canada, whose crop is more than 60 percent GM.
Canola, a variety of rapeseed, is widely used as cooking oil.
It may well be that if Saddam's regime falls there will be dancing on the streets of Basra. But then, if the Bush regime were to fall, there would be dancing on the streets the world over. - Arundhati Roy
PROTEST THE WAR - PROTEST THE CORRUPTION OF THE POLITICAL PROCESS
from Schnews: The Labour Party have a Freepost address, which means they have to pay the postage on anything you send them. Please don't send bricks or heavy phone directories to: The Labour Party, FREEPOST LON 10417, London, SW1P 4UT. All the local party offices also have freepost addresses that can be found on election leaflets
THE PARTY IS "IN THE POCKETS OF THE RICH AND POWERFUL"
'Mark Seddon, a member of Labour's National Executive Committee, claimed such donations were causing Labour to lose members amid criticism from the grassroots that the party was now "in the pockets of the powerful and the rich".
He told the Today programme: "In any other country I think a government minister donating such vast amounts of money and effectively buying a political party would be seen for what it is, a form of corruption of the political process." '