GM group 'delay tactic': PGA

23 Feb, 2006 01:03 PM
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THE Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) has refused to participate in the State Government's GM ministerial reference group.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the group would provide expert advice to the government on logistical, agronomic and marketing issues relevant to biotechnology use in WA agriculture.

But PGA Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley said the money used to form the group would have been better spent on GM research and development.

The PGA has previously said the group would be little more than a debating society.

Mr Bradley said the minister's perceived anti-GM position showed the government did not hold agriculture in high regard.

"This reference group is injurious to farmers' capacity to improve their trading situation," he said.

"It is worse than window dressing, it is a delay tactic.

"The refusal to allow adoption of GM canola in WA is making canola growing here increasingly tough when weighed against Canadian outputs and a lower world canola price.

"I have physically seen trials here and abroad and I have seen the increased yields."

Mr Bradley said any innovation in farming had always been met with suspicion.

"When we shifted from horses to tractors there were doubts just as when we went from the plough to direct drill," he said.

"If you wait for innovation to be approved by the majority of people it never will be."

Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) operations manager Colin Tutt said he and Grain Pool general manager Andy Crane would provide the group with handling, storage and market expertise.

"It is not up to CBH whether we adopt GM but if we did we already have separate supply and handling systems for some grains such as malt barley, which needs to be completely segregated," Mr Tutt said.

"We would have to go to another level to safeguard non-GM from GM material and that could involve having certain receival points for GM material only.

"Any such sites would be decided in consultation with growers."

ProFarmer market analyst Dennis Wise said he would provide the group and minister with what markets were dictating and market evidence.

"The market will give us signals and then it is up to growers whether they want to take any notice of those signals," Mr Wise said.

Agriculture Department representative, biotechnology policy director Sue Sutherland, said the department was a science organisation and would provide the group with technology and agricultural expertise.

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