Agriculture Minister Kim Chance today reassured Western Australian farmers that the State Government’s capacity to protect its moratorium on GM crops had been protected, following an agreement with Primary Industries Ministers from across Australia.
Mr Chance said the Primary Industries Ministerial Council agreed last week to a nationally consistent definition of non-GM levels in canola grain and seed for traces of GM events.
“That level has been defined for canola crop deliveries as 0.9 per cent for canola grain,” he said.
“This is consistent with the European Union standard, which is the most rigorous in the world.
“The definition of non-GM for canola seed has been set at 0.5 per cent for the next two seasons, with an aim to reduce this level to 0.1 per cent by 2008.”
The Minister said there was a clause in the national agreement to allow those States, such as WA, that aspired to complete GM freedom to continue to pursue that objective.
“We have protected the capacity of the State to remain GM-free while accepting that we now have a very low level of contamination,” he said.
Mr Chance said although he was unhappy with the levels agreed upon, the WA Government would be pushing to get the levels as low as possible.
“0.1 per cent is the effective limit of the accuracy of the testing technology now available, other than in very expensive ‘grow out’ testing,” he said.
“Our seed supply chain needs to be reformed so that the sloppy practices of the past which have led to this situation are not repeated.
“It is clear that a far more rigorous framework needs to be put in place so that questions of liability can be more effectively dealt with in law.”
One variety grown in WA - Grace - has been confirmed as having GM material.
However, the contamination is at a very low level and will not affect export markets.
Further tests are under way to confirm whether any other varieties are contaminated, and, if so, at what levels.
“The Gallop Government is committed to protecting the State’s clean and green status,” Mr Chance said.
Minister's office - 9213 6700