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Another Major Review Calls for Progress on GM

1 May 2006

THE most comprehensive independent review of gene technology in Australia has called on governments to reach agreement on a way forward to allow Australian farmers to embrace the benefits of GM technology. The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today echoed that plea.

The Review of Australia’s Gene Technology Act 2000 concluded that Australia’s regulatory framework for GM crops is appropriate and effective in ensuring human health and safety and guarding against any environmental risks associated with GM crops.

“The Review, however, does highlight the detrimental impact State Government GM moratoria have in undermining a nationally consistent framework, and impeding the development and application of GM technology in Australia,” NFF CEO Ben Fargher said today.

“In fact, the Review found no evidence of GM crops adversely affecting markets, a key plank on which State Governments have based their moratoriums.

“As the Review recommends, NFF agrees it’s time for Governments to come together with industry to develop a truly national co-existence framework and ensure Australian farmers can reap the competitive gains this new science offers.”

This latest review comes on the heels of the Agriculture and Food Policy Reference Group Report, which also slammed the negative affect GM moratoria are having on research and development investment and, in turn, the future competitiveness of Australian farmers.

“In line with the review’s findings, NFF maintains that management of trade and economic aspects of prospective GM crops are clearly the responsibility of industry, not government,” Mr Fargher said.

The Review also recommends streamlining the assessment process for applications relating to GM field trails, a move that would ensure more research dollars reach actual research, rather than red tape, to accelerate the development of GM varieties.

“Our view is that the responsible and strategic application of gene technology will result in significant benefits for Australian farmers, the environment, consumers and the Australian economy as a whole,” Mr Fargher added. “As a nation, we need to be in the vanguard of this bourgeoning technology, not consigned to playing catch up.”

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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