The growing of GM crops has finally become an issue in Tasmania, the
island state of Australia.
The Minister for Primary Industry, Water and the Environment, David
LLewellyn admitted to Parliament last week that he did not know that
research farms run by the DPIWE was growing GM crops under contact to
AgrEvo and Monsanto, some of them in close proximity to organic food
The whistle was blown by the lone Green member of Parliament, Peg Putt
after she was briefed by Department officers in a briefing approved by
Mr. LLewellyn has since ordered cancellation of the trials on
government farms but similar trials of GM canola, potatoes, Indian
Mustard and opium poppies (Tasmania is a major world producer of legal
opium poppies for pharmaceuticals) are continuing.
The GM companies are vigourously defending their position claiming
that there are no laws banning their activities.
Deputy Chairman of the Tasmanian Food Council (an advisory body to
government made up of food industry representatives) Peter Shelley has
been quoted as describing as urgent the need to sort out the position
on GM food.
Tasmania has been cultivating an image of a food producer which is
³clean and green² but Mr. shelley says this cannot be backed up with
fact. He suggests Tasmania should instead be promoting a ³clean and
natural² image because this can can be backed by formal quality
Other industry people are claiming that Tasmania can not afford to
miss out on the benefits of GM food production such as reduced use of
The debate continues, surrounded by community apathy.
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