Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Tasmania Bans GM Indefinitely

By Ian Lowe

The Tasmanian government has turned its moratorium on genetically modified crops into an indefinite and complete ban.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The Tasmanian government’s decision in January to turn its moratorium on genetically modified crops into an indefinite complete ban sparked a vigorous debate. On one side, the state’s farmers’ organisation was very unhappy, saying that the moratorium was an opportunity to work through concerns with the community in the hope of gaining approval for GM crops.

I was interested to hear the farmers’ representative say that the most likely crop to be commercially viable was opium poppies, with the island state a major supplier of legal opiates for pharmaceutical use. On the other hand, she conceded, Tasmania’s beekeepers were strongly opposed to the use of GM crops.

Environmental campaigners wel­comed the move, saying that the 160 submissions to the government’s inquiry did not show commercial prospects for any of the modified plants. Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps pointed out that the licences for field trials of GM poppies had been surrendered more than a decade ago, while the trials of possible modified pasture grasses for dairy cattle had also been discontinued several years ago.

Gene Ethics argued that the State’s clean, green reputation allows it to claim premium prices for its produce. The farmers agreed that this argument holds for specialised products like those from King Island, but are not convinced that the benefits flow more generally....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.