Monsanto targets GE-free WA

June 24, 2002 - Western Australia could be opened up for commercial planting of genetically engineered crops before the State Government has even finalised its GE-free zones policy.

The Greens (WA) today warned that the Federal Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) received an application by Monsanto for commercial release of Bt Cotton in two areas of the Kimberley region, and want the State Government to step in and oppose the application.

Dee Margetts MLC said that there was a possibility that if the OGTR approved the application, it would pave the way for GE crops to be grown in WA without full consultation of the public or the agricultural community.

'The State Government earlier this year asked for public comment on a GE-free zones discussion paper and the report resulting from that paper has not yet been presented. From forums and meetings I have attended in my electorate, the indications are that many people in the agricultural community are concerned about the impacts of these products on their own crops and systems,' she said.

Robin Chapple MLC said that there was considerable opposition to growing GE cotton in the Kimberley region but said people in his electorate were feeling helpless about how to tackle the problem.

'People are saying to me that they feel writing submissions to the OGTR on trial proposals is ineffective and there seems to be a hidden force driving the federal government's decision making body into approving trials.'

The Greens have called on the State Government to formally oppose any commercial release of GE crops in Western Australia until policies on GE-free zones are determined and the government has conducted a more transparent and open public consultation process.

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