Two Australian states saying not yet to GM crops

March 23, 2004, just-food.com: March 26, 2004, just-food.com: With Australia’s moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified crops ending in May, both sides of the dispute over GMOs anxiously await while several Australian states make their decisions how best to proceed on the issue of commercial cultivation of GM crops. Early decisions are not looking good for the biotech industry

Western Australia, Victoria announce they are not ready for GM crops, at least not yet

The Australian state of Victoria has announced a ban on commercial plantings of genetically modified canola. The ban will be in force for four years.

The premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks, referred to persisting deep divisions and uncertainty within industry, the farming sector and regional communities about the impact of GM crops on markets. "It's clear there is concern about the unrestricted commercial release of GM canola within industry, in particular from many farmers," he said in a statement.

The move follows a statement from the state of Western Australia at the beginning of the week that it had banned commercial plantings of GM food crops in order to protect its “clean and green” reputation.

The move in Victoria has prompted strong criticism from farmers, reported Dow Jones. Farmers argue that the government has fallen victim to a scare campaign.

In a decision announced earlier this week, Western Australia became the first Australian state to ban the commercial growing of genetically modified crops.

Premier Geoff Gallop said the state would be declared a GM-free area in order to protect its “clean and green” reputation, Dow Jones News reported.

"The cautious approach was also reflective of overwhelming public opinion in W.A. and consumer sentiment around the world," Gallop was quoted as saying.

Gallop said his government’s pre-election promises included a five-year moratorium on the commercial growing of GM food crops.

"During the past three years, public opinion in W.A. has further strengthened against the intrusion of GM technology into the food chain," he said.

The ban only includes growing GM crops for commercial uses, and therefore small field trials will still be permitted.