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Genetically Modified Organisms Amendment Bill 2014 (No. 18)

Second Reading

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, my contribution will be short because I believe the topic has been well covered. I will support the bill. I also will support the amendment proposed by the member for Western Tiers because I believe it is appropriate. I would like to read into Hansard the comment by Jan Davis of the TFGA, on 21 August. She states it very clearly and I could not have put it in such good words. I believe it is important to have it on Hansard on behalf of that group. She said:

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association responded this week to the state Government's continuation of the moratorium on the use of genetically-modified organisms - GMOs - in Tasmania.

Jan Davis said further:

We welcome the clarity that this is a moratorium rather than a ban. The recognition of the need for continuous reassessment of the situation rather than shutting the door on the subject for the next five years is vital if we are to make the most of our competitive advantages. The inclusion of trigger points to enable regular monitoring and review of developments both externally and domestically is therefore important.

South Australia remains the only mainland state with an ongoing ban on genetically-modified - GM - crops, which is expected to remain in place until at least 2019. Western Australia adopted the use of GMOs in 2009, a decision which cropping industries in other states have watched closely in the wake of litigation between neighbouring Western Australian farmers, one organic and one who makes use of GMO. The Marsh v Baxter case was won by the farmer growing GM crops, and it is now under appeal.

Ms Davis said:

… the TFGA had told last year's Tasmanian GMO review that opinion was divided within the farming sector over the use of GM crops and the claimed benefits.

Research commissioned by the previous government confirmed the fact that remaining GM-free comes at a cost to Tasmanian farmers. The Government must recognise this impact on farmers' overall returns. We need to be open to reassessment of the situation as new technologies and products are developed and as markets change.

There is no doubt that we are losing productivity and competitiveness because we cannot access GMO technologies that arguably could enhance current production outcomes and methodologies. Without a promotions campaign in the marketplace to support the moratorium decision, which now goes back 10 years, we have the worst of both worlds. That campaign has never happened and we will be looking forward to discussing possible ways forward with the Government.

I believe the TFGA has outlined it very well. If the Government wishes to go down the path, it needs to put some money into it and promote the fact we are GMO. I will be supporting the amendment by the member for Western Tiers because I believe that in three years' time it is probably a suitable time to do a better review.

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