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WA Agriculture Minister making rash decisions on GM

The Greens today expressed their concern at Western Australian Agricultural Minister Terry Redman's attitude to genetically modified crops, following the Minister's return from a 'fact-finding' visit to Canada.

"Regulation of GM in this country is grossly inadequate and highlights why it is so important to maintain the moratorium on GM crops," said Australian Greens spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.

"There are serious concerns about Australia's labelling laws in relation to GM items in crops - even if we could get past the current deadlock on a national labelling scheme, it would take two years or more to implement. All the while, our agricultural sector is being contaminated."

"It doesn't make economic sense to go down this path. GM canola costs 15% more to grow than conventional canola - once the additional cost of the seed, inputs, user fee and end point royalty fees are taken into account - and independent trials have shown GM canola yields 10% less than non-GM varieties," said Senator Siewert.

Greens WA MLC Lynn MacLaren questioned the diversity of views the Minister sought out on his trip.

"We have serious concerns that the Minister has not truly canvassed the issue. You have to question exactly who Mr Redman has met with, to come back with such a positive view of GM crops. It would appear that he didn't talk to those in Canada who strongly oppose GM crops," said Ms MacLaren.

"Are those commercial farmers the Minister met with growing the same crops as organic farmers? How many were connected with Monsanto and other biotechnology companies?"

"Ultimately, the decision to approve GM in WA cannot be left in the hands of a single Minister. WA has a long and proud history of strong public opposition to GM."

"We've already seen a number of shires in the south-west and Great Southern voting to ban GM crops - why won't the Minister listen to these people and maintain WA's proud GM-free status?" concluded Ms MacLaren.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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