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Greens call for GM law changes to protect farmers and consumers

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 9 Feb 2014

The Australian Greens have called for the reinstatement of the moratorium on GM crops in WA and changes to the laws governing liability and food labelling in order to protect the choices of farmers and consumers across the state.

WA Greens Senators Rachel Siewert and Scott Ludlam and Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren are joining thousands of Western Australians today in support of organic farmer Steve Marsh.

"GM crops are not the answer to feeding the world, regardless of what international companies want us to believe," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.

"Studies from Europe and the US undermine industry hype on the potential for GM crops to increase yields or reduce pesticide use and there are significant gaps and loopholes in the regulation and testing of GM products.

"Non-GM farmers face huge financial losses if their crops are contaminated, as we have seen in the case of Steve Marsh. Farmers who choose not to grown GM crops need to be protected from the impacts of contamination.

"At the same time, inadequate labelling make it almost impossible to know whether the food we buy contains GM ingredients, denying consumers choice. We need to reinstate the moratorium on GM crops in WA and develop betters laws to protect farmers and consumers," said Senator Siewert.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the Federal Government had failed to provide a solution for non-GM farmers who face market and economic losses when their crops are contaminated.

Senator Ludlam said a 2003 report on liability associated with GM crops from the Federal Government's own Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry identified liability for economic loss arising from the unintended presence of GM crops as its principle concern.

"Ten years ago we knew that the presence of GMOs in organic crops had the potential to cause economic loss. It was clearly spelled out to the federal government, and ignored," he said.

"The Australian Government has not chosen to implement a special liability regime for damage caused by GMOs and the Gene Technology Act 2000 (Commonwealth) does not address the economic ramifications of the commercial production of GM crops.

"It's no wonder, really, considering that segregation of crops is not possible, and that contamination of GM-free crops is bound to occur from neighbouring GM farms."


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