(GM Watch) Spinning farmers' caution into fervour down under (1/3/2006)

Submitted by Editor on Mon, 06/03/2006 - 00:21

Julie Newman of the Network of Concerned Farmers in Australia reports on how the cautious policies on GM of the main farm lobby group in Western Australia has been spun to the media as demands for GM trials and an end to Western Australia's GM crops moratorium.

For instance, a policy that calls for an end to the moratorium only "when markets clearly indicate their preparedness to accept GM produce" has been twisted into a demand for an immediate end to the moratorium and an assertion that markets are ready to accept GM produce!

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Home: http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6296

When is a policy not a policy?

Julie Newman of the Network of Concerned Farmers www.non-gm-farmers.com/

Hi Jonathan,

This is a typical twisting of policy used by those supporting GM. WAFarmers Federation is the main farm lobby group in Western Australia and I attended the policy day. While the policy advisor may be pro-GM, the policy is quite conservative and yet WAFarmers is making public statements that is certainly putting a new twist on the policy.

For example:
"WAFarmers supports the lifting of the current State Government moratorium on the commercial release of GMOs when markets clearly indicate their preparedness to accept GM produce." was misinterpreted as "WAFarmers has called for an end to Western Australia's GM crops moratorium. WAFarmers considers the moratorium a barrier to progress, markets and profit. WAFarmers wants the moratorium lifted because they say markets clearly indicate their preparedness to accept GM produce."

The policy was supported by 9 out of 10 zones but the lifting of the moratorium was not. and another:
The role of the Ministerial GMO Industry Reference Group included to provide advise to what tolerance levels were accepted by markets and law.

The policy stated:
"WAFarmers supports new Australian and State Government tolerance levels of 0.9% in crops and 0.5% in seeds, however, requires that the State Government fully supports and recognises the activities and recommendations of the Ministerial GMO Industry Reference Group. (meaning that if the findings revealed that tolerance levels did not comply with law or market demand, they would not be accepted).

yet it was reported as: The policy supports:
* Primary Industries Ministerial Council decision on tolerance levels last year, with WAFarmers supporting levels of 0.9pc in crops and 0.5pc in seeds.
...
WAFarmers policy:

"WAFarmers supports continued well contained trialled research into GMOs including (subject to the adequate resolution of legal liability issues to protect existing industries) the establishment of farmers sized trials of up to 10 hectares of GM Canola in the Esperance district to provide a clear indication of the benefits or otherwise of GM Canola grown in WA conditions.
WAFarmers supports new Australian and State Government tolerance levels of 0.9% in crops and 0.5% in seeds, however, requires that the State Government fully supports and recognises the activities and recommendations of the Ministerial GMO Industry Reference Group.

WAFarmers supports the lifting of the current State Government moratorium on the commercial release of GMOs when markets clearly indicate their preparedness to accept GM produce.

WAFarmers supports the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) and its charter to protect the health and safety of Australians and the Australian environment, however, requires that measures are implemented by Federal and State Governments to provide clear direction on the issues of co-existence, economic and legal liability."

This policy is subject to further review in February 2007.
...
GM trials demanded in WA

By Gemma Criddle - Australia

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

WAFarmers has called for an end to Western Australia's GM crops moratorium.

WAFarmersconsiders the moratorium a barrier to progress, markets and profit.

WAFarmers wants the moratorium lifted because they say markets clearly indicate their preparedness to accept GM produce.

WAFarmers policy director, Andy McMillan, said the group did not expect any immediate ministerial action.

But it was sending a clear message to the decision-makers about what farmers wanted.

"We thoroughly surveyed our members," Mr McMillan said.

"Nine of our 10 geographical zones voted overwhelmingly in support of lifting the moratoriums.

"We have support for farmer-sized GM canola trials of 10ha in the Esperance zone to provide evidence of the benefit, or otherwise, of GM canola grown in WA."

The policy supports:
* The 10ha trials andcontinued, well-contained trials subject to the resolution of any legal liability issues to protect existing industries.

* PrimaryIndustries Ministerial Council decision on tolerance levels last year, with WAFarmers supporting levels of 0.9pc in crops and 0.5pc in seeds.

*The Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) taking responsibility for GM food safety issues and human and environmental health issues.

WAFarmers has called for the Federal and State governments to provide clear direction on the issues of co-existence and economic and legal liability.

Mr McMillan saidthat, while 10ha trials would not show much, they would certainly show more than a laboratory trial would.

He admitted there had beensome tense moments in discussing the policy with the general section council members.

The WAFarmers GM policy is subject to further review in February 2007.

SOURCE: Farm Weekly, WA, February 23.

Hope all is well.

Regards, Julie

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