Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    PM out of touch with Australian consumers and farmers

    25/10/2007 3:08 PM

    Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance has accused the Prime Minister of being out of touch with Australian consumers and farmers with his recent comments on Genetically Modified (GM) food crops.

    Mr Chance said Australian farmers currently produced healthy food of the highest quality for local consumption and exported to a range of overseas markets.

    “We are heavily reliant on our export markets and yet the Prime Minister wants us to switch to GM foods that are rejected by discerning consumers worldwide,” he said.

    “This will damage Australia’s international reputation as a source of reliable, safe quality food.”

    The Minister said the annual survey* from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne published yesterday revealed only 30 per cent of Australians were comfortable with GM plants for food, while only 19 per cent reported some level of comfort with GM animals for food.

    Another recent survey** from Rural Press found that only 27.6 per cent of farmers wanted to see GM grain crops introduced into Australia.

    “These survey results are consistent with my own observations that an overwhelming majority of consumers and farmers in and around WA favour either the retention or the extension of the moratorium,” Mr Chance said.

    “Unless consumers tell us otherwise, the WA Government will not be changing its policy on GM food.”

    Mr Chance met with a Japanese delegation on Monday who presented him with a petition signed by more than 150 companies, representing almost three million Japanese consumers, urging the State Government to continue its moratorium on the commercial production of GM crops.

    The delegation brought with them statistics from a survey showing that more than 80 per cent of Japanese consumers are anxious about GM foods.

    “Just as our farmers are starting to make some serious headway in the international marketplace, the Prime Minister wants to throw all of this away with a misguided and damaging GM policy,” the Minister said.

    “Australia’s agriculture is principally export-oriented and in order to maximise returns for growers, Australia needs to be producing clean and green products which are now shown to be highly sought after in the world’s most discriminating markets of Europe, Japan and China.

    “The WA Government remains committed to the State’s farmers and has no intention of removing a policy which is providing economic benefits to farmers and the wider international and local communities, who clearly remain concerned about consuming GM foods.”

    Minister's office - 9213 6700

    *Source: Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor 2007.

    **Source: Rural Press National News Service, Parliament House, Canberra.