Industry will be ruined by ban: Bradley

24 Mar, 2004 10:00 PM

CANOLA would become nothing but a small cottage industry for WA farmers if Agriculture Minister Kim Chance maintained a ban on genetically modified crops, Pastoralists and Graziers Association grains spokesperson Leon Bradley said.

Mr Bradley said Mr Chance had used unknown market impacts as key reasoning for banning GM crops in WA.

"But research by his own department has established that 99.7pc of WA's canola buyers are already buying GM canola," he said.

He said the State Government had not considered the consequences of a GM ban, which would preclude growers from adopting biotechnology on their farms.

Farmers were dependent on the advancement of technology and techniques to underwrite their farm profitability Mr Bradley said.

"They're going to sabotage our ability to be major players in the production of grains for the world markets," he said.

Mr Bradley predicted a large move away from canola production as a result of the ban.

WA would also be running the risk of being undercut by Argentina, Brazil and Canada, which could produce grains for a much cheaper cost.

"There's also a fair bit of pressure on the triazines and an attempt to reduce our use of them," Mr Bradley said.

He said WA farmers were completely reliant on triazine-tolerant canola varieties at present and a ban would not help to reduce the use of the chemical.

"The immediate impact of a ban is the loss of opportunity to produce canola," he said.

"The longer term impact, which could be in the short term as well, is the decline of our competitiveness."

Mr Bradley said the government would be prohibiting the commercial application of technology resulting from cutting-edge science.

He found it surprising the government was prepared to soften marijuana growing regulations but formed a view GM crops were dangerous.

He said Europe was a good example of where biotechnology companies were moving out of the region to other jurisdictions where GMs were accepted.

Mr Bradley said anti-GM lobby groups could not dismiss GM viability before it had even been trialled properly.

"Let's test that by encouraging the trials, reduce barriers, regulation and restriction," he said.

He said that everywhere else in the world - even third world nations - GM crops had been given a fair chance and farmers had taken it up at high rates.

"And they have taken it up at the highest rate of any technology that has ever been invented," he said.

Mr Bradley believed anti-GM groups were masquerading as the defenders of farmers' rights.

"But in fact what they're doing is preventing farmers from making their assessments and judgements for themselves," he said.

"They have been disingenuous, hypocritical and deceptive.

"Like forestry, farming is now being sacrificed on the altar of Green politics."



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