Monday, 26 May 2008

Hansard 2008-05-07 Genetically Modified Crops

The government has not yet announced details about the regulations it intends to introduce about ‘quarantining’ GM seeds from other seeds.
It seems however that the government is intending to put the onus of keeping GM seeds out of non-GM crops on the non-GM farmer. Mr Kavanagh feels that this would be very unfair on non-GM farmers and has encouraged the government to take a different approach to this problem.
In Parliament Mr Kavanagh asked the government the following questions:

Title: Agriculture: genetically modified crops
Activity: Questions without Notice
Date: 7 May 2008
Page: 1471

Page 1471

Agriculture: genetically modified crops

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question without notice is for the Minister for Industry and Trade, the Honourable Theo Theophanous, representing the Minister for Agriculture, and it relates to regulations concerning GM (genetically modified) crops in Victoria. Why is the government imposing the burden of preventing the spread of genetically modified crops onto non-GM farmers' land, putting that burden on the non-GM farmer; and why has the government not released the details of regulations on the separation of GM and non-GM crops both on farms and in transportation?

Hon. T. C. THEOPHANOUS (Minister for Industry and Trade) -- I thank the member for his question. This is not my portfolio area, although I represent the Minister for Agriculture in this house.

Page 1471

I acknowledge also the concerns of the member in relation to GM (genetically modified) crops, which he has expressed on a number of occasions in the house. I acknowledge that concern and his ongoing interest in this.
What I can say to the member is that the government very carefully considered this issue in making its determinations in relation to allowing GM crops in Victoria. As he is aware, it is under fairly strict conditions that that is to occur. We acknowledge there is considerable debate in the community about it, but on balance the government made a decision about the benefits of those crops in relation to a lower use of pesticides and a range of benefits that have been canvassed in the house in the past.
With respect to the specific question about the detail of the regulations about which the member has asked me, I will seek to get a response from the agriculture minister in relation to that specific detail and inform him of that.

Page 1472

Supplementary question…..

Mr KAVANAGH -- How does placing the burden of preventing the spread of GM crops on non-GM farmers not contradict the principle established in Rylands v. Fletcher and common understandings of rules of fairness?

Hon. T. C. THEOPHANOUS (Minister for Industry and Trade) -- Again I will pass that question on to the agriculture minister, and the only other element I would add is that there is an assumption in the member's question that non-GM farmers are being required to do the things that he says. That is a matter I am not across the detail of. Obviously it is a matter which the agriculture minister would be, and I am sure he will respond to the claims of the member as well as to his question.


Peter Kavanagh MLC
Member for Western Victoria
Parliament of Victoria

"La Cabine"
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1 Yarra Street
Geelong VIC 3220

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