Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance this week introduced legislation into the Western Australian Parliament designed to further protect the State’s moratorium on the growing of Genetically Modified (GM) crops.
The Seeds Amendment Bill 2007 will allow the Minister to declare GM seed to be ‘prohibited seed’.
“Under the proposed changes, it will be an offence to import, sell or be in possession of prohibited seed in WA for the purposes of cultivation,” Mr Chance said.
“This legislation is designed to protect WA’s GM-free cropping systems from intentional or inadvertent GM contamination.”
The Minister said that traces of GM contamination had been previously detected in the State’s canola crop, despite the fact that all canola-growing States of Australia had a moratorium in place.
Testing of canola within WA had revealed no further traces of GM canola lines. The Department of Agriculture and Food continues to test for contamination of seed lines and harvested canola as an ongoing activity.
“WA’s GM-free status is providing benefits to WA farmers in terms of price premiums for food grade non-GM canola and continued market access to discerning markets in Europe, Japan, India and China,” Mr Chance said.
“The legislation will help to protect and maintain the market advantage currently enjoyed by WA farmers because of our GM-free status in the local and international marketplace.”
The Minister said the risks to the State’s GM-free canola cropping and grain handling systems could be further increased if other States lifted their moratorium in 2008. WA had a moratorium in place until 2009.
Mr Chance established a Ministerial Reference group to prepare a discussion paper for public consultation on the risk s and benefits of GM canola to farmers and markets.
The discussion paper should be available for public comment in early 2008.
Minister's office - 9213 6700