Tasmania’s GMO-free status will continue indefinitely

Helen Kempton
Mercury, January 9 2014

TASMANIA will maintain its nationally unique GMO-free status after Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green decided the State’s growing international food brand needed to be safeguarded.

The decision to continue the moratorium on genetically modified organisms for food crops and animals comes after a review of the Act which allows it, which was due to expire in November,

The news has been celebrated by beef exporters who say the ban gave them a huge advantage in a global marketplace which is becoming more nervous about gene technology.

Greenham Tasmania senior executive Graeme Pretty said the beef industry relied on its clean image and buyers from the US — where 97 per cent of the beef produced had been feeding on GM grain — were looking for a grass-fed alternative.

The poppy and dairy industries, however, have been calling for the ban to be lifted and for GM crops to be introduced to increase productivity.

But Mr Green said the continuation of the 13-year-old ban also gave the dairy industry an opportunity to market its cheese and other products as GMO free as a point of difference.

Other states are looking to muscle in on Tasmania’s exclusive poppy industry and start growing crops of their own.

Mr Green said the Government would work with the poppy industry to manage any potential contamination and market risks from non-food GMO pharmaceutical poppies.

While the moratorium will be extended indefinitely, certain triggers could cause the State to review the decision.

“These triggers could include new GMOs that provide health or other benefits, increased consumer acceptance in important markets, or technologies that provide positive benefits to particular primary industry sectors and Tasmania as a whole,” he said.

Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green announced today at Greenhams abattoir in Smithton that the moratorium would continue indefinitely.

Mr Green said he was concerned gene technology could affect the State’s ability to market food both at home and internationally.

Tasmania has had a moratorium on the use of GMOs in primary industries for marketing purposes since 2001. The ban, however, is due to expire in November.

Mr Green asked the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to conduct a review of the moratorium in June last year, with public submissions closing in October.

Tasmania is the only Australian state that can claim to be genuinely GM-free and the State Government has been urged to protect that status.

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