ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

25 July 2002


"Though GMOs get all the publicity, research involving GMO release is a small part of biotechnology. What these numbers show is that an extension of the moratorium will clearly not cripple biological science.'' (item 2)

2. GM research only 3% of biological research
3. Varsity unit gives cash to pro-GE fund
5. Australia farmers want postponement of GM canola


1. GE-Free issue was a winner for Tasmania, say Greens

NZPA Correspondent
New Zealand Press Association
July 22, 2002

Sydney, July 22 - The Tasmanian Greens today credited their efforts towards keeping their island GE-free as a key reason for their record level of support at the state election.

The Greens surpassed even their own expectations to gain 18.2 percent of the total vote on Saturday, compared with 8 percent at the 1998 state poll.

State leader Peg Putt believed the result carried significance for the New Zealand general election this weekend.

"It does, given that we've taken the same approach on many issues, such as the absolute dependence on a clean and green future,'' she said.

"Also, GE-free has been a big winner for the Greens here and I know that's a big issue in New Zealand.''

New Zealand's Greens say they will withdraw support from a Labour-led coalition government if a moratorium on field trials of GE-crops is not extended when the deadline expires in 18 months.

Ms Putt said she believed New Zealand voters would not be swayed by talk that giving the Greens the balance of power would lead to unstable government.

"I suppose when the bigger political parties feel threatened, they will be vitriolic about the Greens and will try to play up the horrors of minority government and all those sorts of things,'' she said.

"But people have a lot more common sense than that. I think the Greens in New Zealand can expect people to see beyond the name calling.''

While the Tasmanian Greens campaigned heavily on the need to protect old- growth forests from clear felling, Ms Putt believed the level of voter support showed her party has lost its single-issue tag.

"People have placed their trust on us here as a major political force,'' she said.

"They recognise that we are competent with policy prescriptions across a range of areas.''

The Tasmanian result means the Greens' representation in the state's 25-seat lower house will rise from one MP to four. That puts them almost on a par with the Liberals, whose numbers will drop from 10 to five, leading Labour Premier Jim Bacon to comment that he now faces two opposition parties.

Federal Greens leader Bob Brown said the percentage of the vote won in Tasmania was the highest by a Green Party in any state or national election in the world, surpassing a recent result in Luxembourg.


2. GMO Moratorium extension would have small impact - Council

New Zealand Press Association
July 21, 2002

(EMBARGOED 0300, July 21) Wellington, July 20 - An extension of the moratorium on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) release would affect only a very small part of New Zealand's biological research effort, the Sustainability Council says.

The council, which is backed by several prominent New Zealanders, was established in early July and was calling for a five year moratorium on GM releases to enable "proper study'' of all the surrounding issues.

The moratorium on commercial release of genetically engineered organisms is due to be lifted in October next year.

The council's executive director, Simon Terry, said in a statement government funds kept the gene science sector afloat and the bulk of biological science funding was through the Foundation for Research Science and Technology.

"Only three percent of the $ 214 million allocated to biological research went to produce a GM related product or solution,'' Mr Terry said.

"Even less of that research depends on the eventual release of GMOs.''

The figures showed that a further 12.5 percent of the funding was allocated to preliminary research which may or may not' lead to GM products or solutions, he added.

"Though GMOs get all the publicity, research involving GMO release is a small part of biotechnology. What these numbers show is that an extension of the moratorium will clearly not cripple biological science.''

The council also believed government-funded entities dominated the push to take GMOs into the field.


3. Varsity unit gives cash to pro-GE fund

NZ Herald 26 July 2002

Auckland University's commercial arm has confirmed that it made "a modest contribution" to the controversial election fund of the pro-genetic modification Life Sciences Network.

Auckland Uniservices chief executive Dr John Kernohan said the contribution was made because "something like 60 per cent of our contract work is GM of some sort".

The $180,000 fund paid for pro-GM advertisements in 21 newspapers on Wednesday and for information kits and a tollfree hotline for candidates from all parties except the anti-GM Greens and Alliance.

Two crown research institutes criticised on Wednesday for contributing to the fund, AgResearch and Crop and Food Research, said yesterday they paid only $10,000 between them to the fund.

The other $170,000 was paid by some of the Life Sciences Network's 20 other members, who include Fonterra, Auckland Uniservices, Otago University, Federated Farmers, the Meat Industry Association, the Biotechnology Association and the industry group Biotenz.

Crop and Food spokesman Howard Bezar said his institute's $3500 contribution was paid in kind by preparing and printing booklets on "GE myths" and "GE-free zones" and fact cards on GM issues.

Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday refused to comment on the furore, including a claim by National Party leader Bill English that the advertisements were "an organised attempt by Labour to try to pull votes back from the Greens".

But Science Minister Pete Hodgson told National Radio's Linda Clark that crown research institutes were companies with their own boards, had other clients besides the Government and "are entitled to use funding that they receive as they will".

"The truth of the matter is that most genetic engineering or genetic modification research in New Zealand takes place within the public sector, so the public sector composed of CRIs and universities ... are an inevitable part of the debate."

Dr Kernohan said Auckland Uniservices believed that educating the communit about biotechnology was important.

"I don't see presenting the facts about GE to be political at all," he said. "We see it just as science. I think all parties need to be educated and so do the people in the street."

The executive director of the Crown Company Monitoring and Advisory Unit which monitors CRIs, Murray Wright, said he talked to both AgResearch and Crop and Food yesterday about their participation in the election fund, but did not plan to take any further action.

But Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said no one could argue realistically that running a pro-GM advertisement three days before an election was "neutral".

"Choosing not to send the election kits to Green and Alliance candidates shows just how biased this whole campaign is."


4. Beekeepers vote to oppose GM crops

Paul Jarvis
The West Australian, July 25, 2002 [via Agnet]

The beekeeping industry in West Australia has, according to this story, weighed into the GM debate. The story says that delegates to the WA Farmers Federation annual beekeepers section conference in Perth voted to oppose the introduction of GM crops in WA.

The conference passed a motion that opposed the growing of GM crops in WA. The motion is to be taken to the WAFarmers general council meeting later this month and the GMO forum in May 2003, during which WAFarmers' present GMO policy will be reviewed.

WAFarmers delegates were joined by other sections of the WA beekeeping industry this week in united opposition to the introduction of GM crops.

Eduard Planken, CEO of WA apiarist-owned honey company Wescobee, was cited as saying that as far as he could tell the consensus across the WA industry was the State should remain a GM-free zone.

Mr Planken said the beekeeeping industry would be the first of WA's agricultural industries hit if GM crops were introduced because the sensitivity to GM foodstuffs already was an issue for apiarists.


5. Australia farmers want postponement of GM canola

Reuters, AUSTRALIA: July 25, 2002

SYDNEY - Australia's largest farmers body called yesterday for the postonement of the introduction of commercial genetically modified (GM) canola crops until identity preservation issues were resolved.

The New South Wales Farmers Association's annual conference passed a motion calling for the postponement. The motion replaced an even tougher motion, which would have put a four year moratorium on the general release of GM canola.

The motion was passed after lengthy debate which showed that Australian farmers still have great misgivings about introducing GM canola.

Australia produces between 1.5 and 2.0 million tonnes of canola a year, which competes against mainly Canadian canola on world export markets, particularly in Asia.

Australian canola is entirely conventionally produced, while Canadian canola is mainly genetically modified.

Australia's first commercial GM canola crop has been seen as likely to be introduced next year, although final approval has not been granted by regulators.

Australian farmers believe that Australia's conventionally produced canola carries a market premium, with GM canola not accepted by consumers in some markets, primarily Europe.

They generally agree that Australia will lose its GM-free canola status once a commercial crop is introduced, even if it is segregated from conventionally-produced crops.

However, speakers were divided yesterday over whether Australia's GM-free canola does command a premium, the main reason why farmers would not wish GM canola to be introduced. The motion which was passed read: "That the association support: (a) The most stringent monitoring of field trials of GM canola, to ensure compliance with the organisation of Gene Technology Regulator; (b) The postponement of the general release plans for GM and Roundup Ready canola in Australia until such a time as all identity preservation issues affecting marketing and trade issues are fully addressed by government and industry."

Roundup Ready is a weedkiller which GM canola can be engineered to resist.

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