SYDNEY, Australia, May 22, 2003 (ENS):
The Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Bill 2003 was
tabled in the New South Wales Parliament on Wednesday
in an attempt by the state government to establish a
three year moratorium on the planting of genetically
"The object of this Bill," states the legislation,
"is to recognize and designate New South Wales
as an area in which certain genetically modified plants
may not be cultivated, in order to preserve the identity
of GM crops or non-GM crops, or both, for marketing
purposes." The measure provides for a maximum penalty
of two years in prison for violators.
But Greenpeace Australia says a provision in the bill
that allows the agriculture minister to grant exemptions
to the moratorium leaves the door open for large scale
biotech crop trials, "effectively circumventing
the moratorium" and NSW Premier Bob Carr's election
Announcing the moratorium during his election campaign,
Carr said, "It is right to exercise caution on
this issue." He said that "once the wide scale
planting of GM crops begins in NSW, we cannot go back."
Greenpeace is calling on the Carr government to "act
on community concerns" and make amendments to the
bill to ensure that conventional crops are not contaminated
by trials of genetically modified plants. Pollen from
genetically modified crops can be carried on the wind
far from the trial crop site.
In support of their position, Greenpeace Australia,
the Australian Consumers Association, the Network of
Concerned Farmers, the Biological Farmers of Australia
and the NSW Greens presented the Premier's Office with
some two thousand postcards from NSW citizens who support
a real moratorium.
"Most Australian's don't want to eat GE [genetically
engineered] foods, and most farmers in NSW are opposed
to GE food crops being introduced," says Greenpeace
campaigner, John Hepburn. "The government needs
to significantly tighten the bill so that its election
promise of a three year moratorium is actually implemented."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2003. All