News 206 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Tasmania profits from GM-free canola

The Tasmanian Greens have said that the decision by Roberts Ltd. to stop selling canola seed into the Tasmanian market was a clear signal that contamination of canola seed in Australia was a real issue for other states.

It also implicates that the biotech companies who promote genetically engineered (GE) crops and boast that GE crops and seeds can be securely segregated have misled the producers and consumers of Australia.

Greens Shadow Primary Industries spokesperson Kim Booth said that the upside of Roberts withdrawal was that there was a clear market opportunity for Tasmanian growers.

They could become a hub of GE-free canola seed production as well as promoting the island as an exporter of premium GE-free bulk canola.

This kind of differentiation was exactly the kind of value adding avenue that will sustain and nurture Tasmania's agricultural sector, he said.

Government back-up needed
"Tasmanian farmers now clearly have a massive financial opportunity to become suppliers of the potentially lucrative 100% GE-free canola seed and canola for food consumption throughout the world, but the State government must come up with a strategy that will enable our farmers to seize this unique opportunity," Booth said.

Australia is one of twenty canola producers world-wide but only two grow GE canola, Canada and the USA. Just two countries trade canola internationally with Canada supplying around 70% and Australia about 30%.

"If Tasmania stands strong and maintains its GE-free status, with a zero threshold for GE contamination, and quarantine in place, Tasmania has the opportunity to be the GE-free canola seed developer and supplier to Australia and the world," Booth added.

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