EXTRACT: Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan said GM crops would advance Australia's position in world markets... 'There is simply no basis to the assertion that GM crops will do damage to the state's clean, green image.' (item 1)
'The contamination in North America from the long grained rice scandal is estimated to cost the grains industry $1.2 billion, so why on earth would we want to go down this path?' - Scott Kinear (item 2)
COMMENT from GM Watch: We don't know what planet Peter Ryan is on but the stain on Victoria's image internationally may never go away if Brumby ends the moratorium. As for Brumby himself, his reputation will be tarred with the same brush as those of Howard and Blair and Bush - political leaders who placed the interests of the biotech industry above those of their own electorate.
1.Labor MPs fight to keep GM ban
The Age, November 27 2007
STATE Labor MPs have expressed 'grave fears' that lifting the Brumby Government's controversial ban on genetically modified crops would harm the environment and economy, as well as damage the state's green image.
Newly elected MP Martin Foley has joined four caucus colleagues from across Labor's factions in calling for the ban on genetically modified canola crops to remain.
The group have all written to a scientific panel chaired by Sir Gustav Nossal, which has handed its report on the economic impact of removing the ban to Premier John Brumby. The moratorium expires next February.
Just two days after being sworn in as the member for Albert Park replacing John Thwaites, Mr Foley wrote to Agriculture Minister Joe Helper arguing that lifting the ban would harm Victoria's grain and dairy industries.
Mr Foley was chief-of-staff to former agriculture minister Bob Cameron.
'I hold grave fears that the move towards lifting the current moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified canola — and possibly by extension other GM commercials — will disadvantage Victoria's relative position in regards to both its international export competitors and … our status as a trading partner,' he writes in the letter, which was also sent to Sir Gus' panel.
The Age has revealed that Mr Brumby is facing a backlash from his Labor caucus over the GM issue, with one MP attacking the Premier's 'arrogance' and 'crash-through style'.
In a display of dissent last week, a special meeting of caucus attended by about half of Labor's 74 MPs put concerns about the health, environmental and economic impact of lifting the ban directly to Mr Brumby and criticised the decision making process.
'This is Brumby's arrogance and crash-through style at play here,' said a Labor MP who declined to be named. 'He's good at numbers but he can't read people.'
Mr Brumby has been a supporter of GM technology and in a recent interview with The Age, flagged that the moratorium was likely to be lifted.
Labor MPs with seats in regional areas and those with a large number of Greens supporters have also expressed concern at the political impact of lifting the ban.
The other MPs to make submissions to the review were Tammy Lobato, Christine Campbell, Carlo Carli and Jenny Mikakos.
In his submission, Mr Carli proposed that the moratorium be extended for at least four years. 'The risks of lifting the moratorium are greater than the risks associated with keeping it,' he said.
Upper house MP Ms Mikakos argued that the introduction of GM crops posed a major threat to Australia's reputation as producing clean and green agricultural products.
Yesterday, Mr Brumby said the Government had received the report from Sir Gus, and that it would be considered by cabinet, with a decision to be made on the moratorium before Christmas.
Removing the ban has the support of the Liberal and National parties.
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan said GM crops would advance Australia's position in world markets, and there was no longer the need for the moratorium.
'There is simply no basis to the assertion that GM crops will do damage to the state's clean, green image,' he said.
Vic Govt urged to extend GM crops moratorium
ABC, 26 Nov 2007
Groups opposed to genetically modified (GM) crops are calling on Victorian Premier John Brumby to extend the moratorium on GM canola.
The Government is due to make a decision on the moratorium this month.
Scott Kinnear from the Biological Farmers of Australia says support to maintain the moratorium is growing in the community and the State Government backbench.
He says the supermarket giant Coles and about 250 other food companies are speaking out against genetically engineered food.
'The markets have not opened up for our GM product internationally, in fact they appear to have tightened,' he said.
'The contamination in North America from the long grained rice scandal is estimated to cost the grains industry $1.2 billion, so why on earth would we want to go down this path?'
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