Senator Rachel Siewert has condemned what she described as a misleading and irresponsible report on genetically engineered crops from the Australian Bureau of Resource Economics (ABARE), after evidence to Senate Estimates late yesterday revealed its modelling was based on unjustifiable and bizarre assumptions.
"The clear intention of this report was to convince farmers, the wider community and Government to adopt genetically engineered crops by generating media reports that the Australian economy was 'missing out' to the tune of $8.5 Billion," said Senator Siewert.
"However to reach this extreme conclusion ABARE modellers had to 'assume' the existence of commercial GE wheat and rice crops, and 'assume' that every single farmer in Australia adopted them," she said.
"At the same time ABARE over-inflated the benefits of GE they did not adequately consider the known costs and threats associated with it. They made limited allowance for the cost of segregation, failed to address liability for contamination of non-GE produce, and failed to take into account major markets like Japan and Europe which do not like GE crops and pay a premium for GE-free produce," said Senator Siewert.
"The result is a report that is flawed and misleading and bares little relevance to real world conditions for Australian farmers. Nowhere in the world are there commercial GE wheat and rice crops in production, a fact ABARE admitted in estimates yesterday.
"This is nothing more than inaccurate and irresponsible speculation. I do not see the value in producing such a misleading report without dealing with the issues that may result in significant economic costs," she said.
"Its high time Australia had a government-backed resource economics agency that actually addressed the significant economic and sustainability challenges faced by Australian farmers and land managers in the real world - not one that continues to forecast widely inaccurate oil prices and assert that roosters will lay eggs when the price is right."