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Second Major State in Australia Bans a GE Crop

Five years ago Australia, as part of the "Miami Group", was one of the
nations most aggressively promoting GM crops. But things are rapidly
changing. On Tuesday Western Australia banned all GM crops. Today a second
state, Victoria, has banned GM canola (oilseed rape) to protect its "clean
and green image". Now groups in neighbouring New Zealand are demanding that
they take similar action to protect their image and export markets. With
nations across Africa banning GM imports, and with counties and states in
the US and Canada now acting to ban GM crops it increasingly looks as if a
global ban might now be achievable.

1. Victoria opts for four-year GM moratorium
2. Bracks says 'No' to GM food
3. NZ risks squandering opportunity of the century. Western Australias Ban
on GM crops a lesson for New Zealand

4. Western Australia bans all GM crops

ABC News Online (Australia)
Thursday, March 25, 2004. 1:24pm (AEDT)

Victoria opts for four-year GM moratorium

The Victorian Government has imposed a four-year moratorium on commercial
crops of genetically modified (GM) canola.

The current three-year GM moratorium expires in May.

The new legislation will allow for scientific and research trials of GM

Victoria is Australia's largest dairy exporter and exports more than $1
billion of grain each year.

Premier Steve Bracks says the state's producers must have certainty and

"Our clean, green image in accord with what happens in the rest of
Australia primarily will continue in the future as well," he said.

"I think that's a great benefit. Yes, it's a cautious approach, but why
wouldn't you be cautious with $3.5 billion of export."

The Age (Australia)
March 25, 2004 - 2:30PM

Bracks says 'No' to GM food

By Nick Lenaghan

The Victorian government has imposed a new four-year moratorium on the
commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) canola crops.

Premier Steve Bracks said today the decision would protect the state's
and green image".

Mr Bracks, who made the announcement at Melbourne's docks area, said he
wanted to ensure Victoria's $3.5 billion of export trade in dairy and
remained sound.

"Yes, it's a cautious approach, but why wouldn't you be cautious with $3.5
billion of export - of grains and dairy products - that already are coming
out of this port?"

Victoria already had a moratorium that was due to expire in May and the new
ban meant a "no-change" position on GM crops, he said.

"What exists now will exist in the future," Mr Bracks said.

Legislation will be introduced to give the state control over all GM crops,
with a specific ban on GM canola until 2008.

Agriculture Minister Bob Cameron, who made the announcement with the
said the legislation would allow for "tightly controlled scientific and
research trials".

But Victoria would not allow trials which amounted to "thousands of
as had been proposed elsewhere in Australia, he said.

"We don't believe that that's appropriate because that really amounts to a
limited form of general release," Mr Cameron said.

However, the government acknowledged an impact report it had commissioned,
which it released today, had recommended "commercial co-existence trials of
GM canola in Victoria",

Mr Bracks said the report by University of Melbourne academic Peter Lloyd
"mixed findings" on growing GM canola, including concerns about

The premier also said today's decision would not harm Melbourne's bid to win
a reputation as a centre for biotechnology research.

Earlier this week, the West Australian and Tasmanian governments announced
they would legislate to ban GM crops but allow exemptions for testing.

Other Australian states and territories have moratoriums of varying lengths
in place.

Genetically modified canola is the only food crop so far that has been
approved for planting by the federal regulator.

The Victorian Farmers Federation, who have pushed for an end to the ban,
respond to the government decision later today.



NZ risks squandering opportunity of the century
Thursday, 25 March 2004
Press Release: GE Free NZ

NZ risks squandering opportunity of the century. Western Australias Ban on
GM crops a lesson for New Zealand

New Zealand should follow Western Australia's decision to declare a GM-free
zone in order to secure the marketing opportunity of the century.

Premier Geoff Gallop said the state would be declared a GM-free area in
order to protect its "clean and green" reputation, Dow Jones News reported.

New Zealand is uniquely placed to gain maximum benefit from supplying guaranteed GM-free produce and a truly clean-green image for tourism and marketing.

"This opportunity is threatened by the government's refusal to restore the
moratorium on GE commercial release," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in
food and environment.

"We are being left behind while other states- like Western Australia- wake
up to the disaster that GE crops have been overseas and take action to protect
their national interests," he says.

New Zealand should be a GE-free zone with respect to commercial releases -
and local Councils must demand this protection if central government
continue to ignore their responsibilities.

"Local nuclear-free zones were the stepping stones to New Zealand declaring
ourselves Nuclear free. Many regions - and even individual homes are now
registering as GE-free Zones," says Mr. Carapiet.

"New Zealand must not squander the opportunity of the century by allowing GE contamination of our production systems, which is certain to result from
commercial GE use."

New Zealand Herald
Wednesday March 24, 2004

Western Australia bans all GM crops


Australia's largest state, Western Australia, says it will ban the growing
of all genetically modified (GM) crops.

The state is a major producer of wheat, barley, canola and pulses.

Australia so far produces only cotton and carnations as GM crops, but last
year the federal Gene Technology Regulator approved the growing of
genetically modified canola, used for cooking oil.

State governments, however, have the power to ban GM crops for marketing

All Australian state governments where canola is grown have moratoriums on
GM crops, although New South Wales will soon consider an undisclosed decision
by an advisory council on whether a large-scale commercial trial crop may be
planted this season.

Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop said yesterday that GM crops would
be banned so the state's farmers could continue to market GM-free produce and
to seek out new markets with confidence.

This also reflected overwhelming public opinion in Western Australia and
consumer sentiment around the world, he said.

"During the last three years public opinion in Western Australia has further
strengthened against the intrusion of GM technology into the food chain,"
Gallop said.

An over-riding argument to embrace GM technology in food production may
emerge in the future, he added.

Western Australia's agricultural food sector contributes A$9.2 billion ($10.5
billion) to the state's economy and employs 10 per cent of its workforce.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (Abare) is
forecasting that in the 2003-04 year Western Australia will produce 610,000
tonnes of canola in a national crop of 1.6 million tonnes.

New South Wales is forecast to produce 282,000 tonnes.

Australia is the second-largest canola exporter in the world, after Canada,
whose crop is mainly genetically modified.

However, Australia exports only small amounts of canola to Europe, which
does not import GM product.

Western Australia is also forecast to produce 10.7 million tonnes of wheat
this year in a national crop of 24.9 million tonnes, and 3 million tonnes of
barley in a national crop of 8.5 million tonnes.

GM wheat is generally not seen as being produced in the near-term because of
complex science and its status as a staple food.

Anti-GM campaigner GeneEthics Network called on other Australian states to
follow Western Australia in banning GM crops.

Bayer CropScience, which produces GM crops, said Western Australian farmers
and the environment would be the biggest losers.