Agriculture Minister Kim Chance today called on the Federal Government to develop a robust legal framework to address liability issues resulting from contamination by genetically modified (GM) crops to protect Western Australian agriculture.
Mr Chance said the detection of trace levels of GM contamination in preliminary tests of WA canola followed an incident in Victoria where trace levels of GM material were detected in a small consignment of canola.
Samples of the WA canola have now been sent overseas for further testing to confirm the presence or otherwise of GM material and results could be available late this week.
“I have written to the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) as part of the review of the Gene Technology Act calling for strict liability legislation for GM contamination,” the Minister said.
“This incident demonstrates that there is a clear need for uniform liability legislation to protect those States with moratoria on the growing of GM crops.”
Mr Chance said one possibility of the GM contamination was that it was unknowingly imported from North America and included in breeding material used to develop a conventional variety of canola seed.
WA has been a declared GM-free area since the Gallop Government announced a moratorium on the commercial production of GM crops in 2001.
The moratorium supports the State’s ‘clean and green’ status and is also reflective of overwhelming public opinion in WA and consumer sentiment around the world.
“The State Government’s stance on GM food crops will protect the lifestyle of our farming communities by protecting our overseas markets and environment,” the Minister said.
“It will also ensure that WA consumers continue to have a choice about the food they wish to eat.
“The Gallop Government is committed to protecting its moratorium and enhancing Western Australia’s unique environment.”
Minister's office: 9213 6700