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 modified crops.
"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 Rights Reserved