Tasmanian dairy body wants changes to state's GMO-free status

Tasmanian dairy body wants changes to state's GMO-free status

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The government is reviewing a moratorium on the use of GMO technology in Tasmania and the dairy industry is calling for change.

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A review of Tasmania's GMO-free status needs to acknowledge a decision to amend federal laws to exempt gene editing from being regulated as a genetically modified organism, the state's peak dairy body says.

The government is reviewing a moratorium on the use of GMO technology in Tasmania, particularly in agriculture, which is due to expire in November.

In particular, it wants to gauge the views of stakeholders on the impacts lifting the moratorium would have on their business and the state's food economy or whether its removal would provide benefits.

The DairyTas board in a submission to the review said gene technology innovations would boost Tasmanian dairy farm profitability.

"Many Tasmanian dairy farmers question whether any market benefits of remaining GMO-free outweigh the on-farm value of gene technology innovations," it said.

"Recent changes to the Gene Technology Regulations will result in improved on farm efficiencies whilst maintaining the state's current GMO free status."

"If the moratorium is to remain, the review period should be reduced so potential efficiency gains can be measured against market advantages on a more regular basis." The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering said the state government should consider regulation of gene editing technologies, which were different to traditional gene insertion technologies, if the moratorium was extended.

"While gene technology improvements are not a panacea for all the challenges that the agribusiness sector faces, the adoption of available and emerging gene technologies presents many potential benefits," it said.

"The Australian agribusiness sector must continue to adopt new gene technologies to remain globally competitive and maintain its comparative advantage."

Fonterra Australia sustainability manager Jack Holden said the business supported retention of the GMO moratorium in Tasmania.

"We remain concerned about consumer preference against foods made from GMOs and would like to see some conclusive consumer insights before any reduction in controls on the use of GMOs in Tasmania," he said.

He said Fonterra's non-GMO products achieved a greater market share and premium price in international markets.

Stuart Burgess, from Fruit Growers Tasmania, said while it was believed the moratorium provided little financial return to growers, producers still benefited from branding.

"Most growers have noted that continuation of the moratorium may create future marketing opportunities as GMOs become more widespread globally but that these opportunities will not eventuate if the moratorium is discontinued," he said.

This story first appeared on The Advocate

The story Tasmanian dairy body wants changes to state's GMO-free status first appeared on Farm Online.

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