War of words erupts over GM canola


Posted Mon Aug 20, 2007 2:23pm AEST

ABC News Online

Federal Labor’s primary industry spokesman Kerry O’Brien is accusing Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran of promoting one side of the genetically modified (GM) canola argument.

Mr McGauran released a report on GM crops this month and is pushing state governments to drop their bans on GM canola.

Senator O’Brien says Mr McGauran ignored sections of the report referring to consumer resistance, divisions in the farming community and weed problems.

He says Mr McGauran is setting up another argument with the states.

"There is also the question of whether the markets are going to be there for our product or whether there’s any advantage to the extra expenditure that’s spent in getting a higher value for the crop that’s grown," he said.

"All these issues have to be dealt with, this is something to be dealt with dispassionately, not in the heat of an election campaign for political advantage."

Mr McGauran says lifting the bans will put choice on GM technologies in the hands of farmers.

He says he acknowledges the report was not all positive, but he says most farmers are in favour of GM technology.

"The problem for Senator O’Brien is he’s walking both sides of the street, he doesn’t support nor oppose GM, I think the political cowardice after all these years and all of the data and evidence available not to make a decision, you’re either for the commercial release or you’re not, so long as all the safeguards are in place," he said.

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