Australia and New Zealand

Updates + Overviews

Under the current Liberal Government Western Australia has seen the introduction of exemptions for GM cotton (2009) and GM canola (2010) to the GM Crops Fee Areas Act 2003. GM cotton was grown once in the Ord River area but was a financial disaster due to the lack of infrastructure and the fall in cotton prices which made it unviable. GM canola is possibly 20% of the total Western Australia canola production, but the prices consistently report a penalty for GM canola of up to $60 per tonne, and even up to $85 on occasion.

Since coming into power in 2008 this government has insisted that 'Common Law' is available to deal with GM contamination events. NGOs have constantly petitioned for some form of farmer protection. The two million dollar bill faced by organic farmer Steve Marsh, who discovered GM canola on his farm leading to a loss of his organic certification, suing his GM canola growing neighbour, and losing the court case paints the failure of Common Law. NGOs are still demanding a change in law to protect other farmers who may find themselves in the same position.

The State Government has been in partnership with Monsanto (via the wheat and barley breeding programme InterGrain) since 2010 when it owned 19.9%. This was increased to 26% in 2013, and must compromise any debate on GMOs. 

Under pressure from pro-GM farming groups such as the PGA the State Government is now acting to repeal the GM Crop Free Areas Act 2003 despite petitioning from non-GM farmers and consumers to maintain the moratorium. In its aim to cut Red Tape the State Government has also begun the repeal of the 2006 Gene Technology Act which will leave the state with only Federal acts to control and monitor GM events and approvals.

State Labor and the Greens support restoring WA to being a GM-free state, and will take this to next year's state election, March 2017.

20 April 2016 in Brisbane, Australia, Vandana Shiva delivers African Food Sovereignty Alliance Open Letter on Gates Foundation funded GMO bananas developed at QUT sent for human feeding trials in Iowa as well as 57,000 signature petition on the human trials being carried out on female students at Iowa State University in the United States.

The GMO bananas developed at QUT in Queensland by Dr James Dale with Gates Foundation funding are based on biopiracy from indigenous pacific cultures' banana cultivars and their traditional knowledge taken without acknowledgement or permission.

The GMO bananas are a propaganda exercise designed to open up Africa to patented GMO seed companies and chemical and fertiliser companies, by making the GMO push out to be a humanitarian project and are earmarked for Uganda and India. Reductionist and wasteful expenditure on promoting the GMO industry takes place at the expense of proven agroecological approaches to nutrition based on biodiverse diets. Africans are told they will go blind if they don't accept GMOs.

Previous human trials of so-called 'golden rice' carried out by Tufts university in Boston have been scandalised by failures to comply with human ethics review board requirements and the lead Chinese researcher suspended. The 57,000 signature petition delivered to lead researcher on the GM banana trials Wendy White in Iowa and to Gates Foundation ask for similar clarification and transparency on the GM banana trials, which QUT who developed the bananas and shipped to Iowa have also been celebrating with putting out press releases, yet the ethical review board process at QUT for the GMO banana human trials has been circumvented.

For more details see the AFSA open letter here
For the AGRA Watch 57,000 signature petition on the GMO banana human feeding trials. 
These two are being delivered also to QUT which must also answer to global civil society concerns as the developers of the GMO banana.

(Updated in April 2016 Information provided by GM Free Alliance Australia, the national peak coalition of GM Free movement in Australia, and FOODWatch)

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With the agreement of all political parties, the GMO-free status of both Tasmania and South Australia were extended until 2019 when they will be reviewed. The governments are keeping a watching brief in case a GM opportunity emerges but we don't expect any change.

(Update provided by Gene Ethics, March 2015)

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Tasmania's ban on the release of GM organisms to the environment will continue until 2014.

South Australia has reaffirmed their commitment to ban all commercial GM crops until 2014. 

Presentations

The GMO Situation in Australia and The situation in Australia - Pacific, Maggie Lilith, Conservation Council of Western Australia, Planet Diversity, May 2008, Bonn, Germany
GE Free New Zealand, Claire Bleakley, Planet Diversity, May 2008, Bonn, Germany