Sunday, December 02, 2007

brumby's backward gm decision

YARRA RANGES condemns government gm decision - below is a media release issued 28/11/07 in response to Premier Brumby's decision to lift the moratorium on GM Canola.

The Shire of Yarra Ranges has condemned the state government’s decision to lift a ban on the growing of genetically modified canola, with deputy mayor Samantha Dunn (that's me) calling on the new federal government to convene a meeting of the Gene Technology Ministerial Council to consider the matter nationally.

Cr Dunn criticised the decision, during a council meeting last night (27/11/07), saying it would open the flood gates for other genetically modified crops to be grown in the state, destroying Victoria’s clean and green image.

This is the most retrograde decision I've seen from the Brumby government to date,” Cr Dunn said. “The assertion from the Premier that the lifting of the moratorium is of economic benefit to Victoria is misguided. The majority of farmers, consumers and the food industry do not support genetically modified crops being grown in Australia; yet the Premier has chosen to disregard this.

Ending the GM bans is a national, permanent and irreversible decision as GM pollen knows no borders. It threatens the entire organic farming industry in Australia and weakens our market position as a clean and green primary producer.”

In pushing for federal government intervention, Cr Dunn also criticised the lack of transparency around the decision.

The submissions to Sir Gustav Nossal's review are not publicly available. This is poor process and fails the test of open and transparent government,” she said.

Cr Dunn said the council and the Yarra Ranges community had been vocal in saying not to GMO’s. Just last year the council collected more than 1000 signatures on a petition calling for a ban on a trial to grow a genetically modified blue rose in the shire.

The council adopted a policy in February 2001 opposing the introduction of GM crops into the shire. “Yarra Ranges’ agricultural produce is regarded as some of the finest in the world. This decision threatens our agricultural and horticultural producers and the region’s precious biodiversity.”

Cr Dunn said horticultural production in the shire was worth an estimated $710 million per annum with the nursery and cut flower sectors worth about $390 million and the orchard and berry fruit industries about $110 million (source Centre for eBusiness and Communications Swinburne University).

“The council’s objection to GMOs is not just based on philosophical concerns; we have major concerns on scientific grounds and the potential impact on our farmers and horticultural industries.

“Not enough is known about the potential effects of genetically modified crops on insect life including native and exotic pollinating insects, its potential for recombinant viruses and the level of gene flow between other crops,” Cr Dunn said.

WHAT’S AT STAKE Some of the state’s most significant biodiversity with important flora and fauna. A thriving agricultural sector renowned for its premium quality food and produce and a major employer of the region’s people.

Yarra Ranges Agricultural Sector Stats
The agricultural sector employs about 4000 people on a permanent basis with a further 6000 seasonal employees. It is a major generator of jobs and money in the local, state and national economies.
Nursery sector 93 businesses generating a Gross Value of Production of $290M per annum (“Farming Real Estate” Centre for eBusiness and Communications Swinburne University)
Cut Flower sector 73 businesses generating GVP of $100M per annum
Orchard Fruit Industry 50 businesses generating GVP of $50M per annum (industry sources)
Berry Fruit Industry 93 businesses $60M per annum (industry sources)
Wine grapes 113 businesses generating approximately $150 to $200million per annum
Vegetable Growers 47 businesses $10M per annum

Sources: Centre for eBusiness and Communications Swinburne University 2000 and ABS Shire of Yarra Ranges Economic Development Profile 2005.

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