Moratorium on GM Canola
The Commonwealth Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) approved the commercial release of Bayer CropScience’s InVigor® GM canola and Monsanto Australia’s Roundup Ready® GM canola in 2003. The OGTR concluded that these varieties of canola pose no greater risk to human health or the environment than conventionally bred canola. GM canola is the first GM agricultural crop used primarily as a food crop that has been approved for general release into the Australian environment. GM cotton is already grown widely in NSW and QLD and GM carnations and roses are approved for commercial production.
In 2004, the State Government concluded that the timing was not appropriate for the full commercial release of the two varieties of GM canola due to divisions and uncertainty within industry, the farming sector and regional communities about the impact of GM canola on markets.
On 12 May 2004, the Minister for Agriculture issued an Order under the Control of Genetically Modified Crops Act 2004 (the Act). declaring a four-year moratorium in Victoria on the commercial scale planting of the two varieties of GM canola.
In May 2007, the Victorian Government established an independent Panel, chaired by Sir Gustav Nossal, to review the moratorium on GM canola. The Panel examined information from public submissions, undertook discussions with a range of stakeholders and analysed a number of independent reports, including a detailed economic analysis prepared specifically for the Review. The Panel submitted its report in late October 2007.
The Panel Report made a well researched and argued case for allowing the moratorium to expire. It found there are no valid trade and market grounds to maintain a moratorium that prevents farmers from having choice about the type of canola they wish to grow.
On 27 November 2007, the State Government accepted the Panel’s recommendation to allow the moratorium on GM canola to expire on 29 February 2008. Currently, all OGTR commercially approved canola can be grown in Victoria and no further Orders under the Act are in place.