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The lifting of WA's GE canola ban would remove choice for farmers and consumers
The lifting of WA's GE canola ban would remove choice for farmers and consumers
Help keep WA GE free!

Take action: make a submission to the review

The GE crop industry is arguing that the WA Government moratorium on GE crops is unnecessary and should be lifted. Please take the time to make a submission and show the WA Government that you want WA to remain GE-free. It doesn’t have to be long!

The Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003 states that its purpose is: “to prohibit the cultivation of certain genetically modified crops in designated areas of the State and to provide for their destruction in certain cases.” The Act allows the creation of GE-free zones within the state on marketing grounds.

The Government wants to hear your views about:

  • The need for the Act – i.e. is the purpose of the Act still appropriate? If so, do the current provisions of the Act provide the best way of achieving the purpose or are there alternatives?
  • The operation of the Act
  • The effectiveness of the Act
  • The orders made under the Act prohibiting the cultivation of GM crops and granting exemptions from that prohibition.

The submission period has been extended and submissions are now required by close of business on 11 September 2009.

Email submissions are preferred to - alternatively, send hard copy submissions to:

Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act Review
Department of Agriculture and Food
Locked Bag 4
Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983

Some points that you could include in your submission are:

Shires should have the right to remain GE free
Many of the shires in WA have declared themselves GE free. They should have the right to remain that way.

WA’s clean, green image is dependent on it remaining GE free
A wide range of industries in WA rely on its clean green image to market their products. The lifting of the GE crop moratorium in WA would jeopardise the state’s reputation

Markets don’t want GE canola
There is growing consumer resistance to GE food in both Australia and in our key export markets such as Europe and Japan. Canada completely lost its canola export market to Europe as a result of adopting GE canola. The current economic downturn has meant that Australia’s economy is increasingly reliant on agricultural exports to keep the country out of recession. Lifting the GE crop moratorium in WA would jeopardise these exports.

Segregation is impossible
Initial attempts to segregate non-GE canola in Canada failed and all Canada’s canola is now marketed as GE – removing choice for farmers and consumers. Based on the North American experience, it is virtually guaranteed that a GE/non-GE segregation system will fail because the seed supply is already contaminated. A recent study showed that 90% of non-GE certified canola seed in Canada is contaminated with GE material.

Grain handlers in Australia have admitted that they are only currently segregating non-GE and GE canola in Australia for ‘political’ reasons. There is no intention to segregate canola in the long term.

The proposed segregation protocols are unethical
The segregation protocols that have been introduced in New South Wales and Victoria were written by the biotechnology industry to provide a pathway to market for GE crops – not non-GE crops. The experience in NSW and Victoria, since the commercial introduction of GE canola has shown that there is no intention to deliver choice for consumers or farmers.

In NSW and Victoria, seed companies are already telling farmers that they cannot guarantee that seed is GE-free. If farmers want to market their canola as GE-free they have to pay a $2.50 per tonne testing fee and an additional warehousing fee. Not all silos have segregation facilities, so farmers may have to drive further to deliver their grain if they want to market it as GE free. Non-GE farmers also carry the liability if they market a product as non-GE that turns out to be contaminated with GE material. Basically non-GE farmers are carrying the majority of the risks and costs associated with the introduction of GE canola.

A tiny minority of farmers in NSW and Victoria are growing GE canola, yet its introduction is pushing up the cost of canola production for all farmers. This will push up the cost of canola for the food industry and make Australia less competitive with other canola producing countries.

There are no economic benefits associated with GE canola

GE canola costs 15% more to grow that conventional canola - once the additional cost of the seed, inputs, user fee and end point royalty fees are taken into account - and it doesn’t have higher yields.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation National Variety trials last year are the only independent trials that have been conducted on GE canola in Australia. In these trials, the highest yielding GE canola variety yielded 10% less than the highest yielding non-GE canola variety.

Further info

Further details of the WA Government’s review and how to make a submission

Download The Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act (PDF)

Download the Network of Concerned Farmers report the Economics of GM Canola (PDF) 

Read the report by the Ministerial GMO Industry Reference Group (PDF)

Read the biotechnology industry’s position on the issue

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