Review of the Moratorium
Purpose of the Review of the Moratorium on GM Canola
In 2003, the Federal Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) approved the commercial release of Bayer CropScience's InVigor® genetically modified (GM) canola and Monsanto Australia's Roundup Ready® GM canola. The OGTR concluded that these canola varieties pose no greater risk to human
health or the environment than conventionally bred canola.
In 2004, the Victorian 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 declaring a four-year moratorium in Victoria on the commercial scale planting of GM canola. The moratorium is in place until 29 February 2008 and will be reviewed before the Order expires.
All other States and Territories, except Queensland and the Northern Territory, have introduced moratoria either on GM canola, or more broadly on GM crops, for various lengths of time.
On 22 May 2007, the then Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Steve Bracks MP, announced the establishment of an independent panel to review the State's moratorium on the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) canola.
Scope of the Review of the Moratorium on GM Canola
Under a policy principle established within the Gene Technology Act 2000, the moratorium on the commercial cultivation of GM canola in Victoria (the Moratorium) was imposed in 2004 for trade and market access reasons. The Terms of Reference for this review focused on trade and market access considerations. Matters of human health, safety and environmental impacts were not part of the terms of reference as these are considered under commonwealth legislation.
Composition of the Review Panel
On 22 May 2007, the Premier also announced the appointment of the Review's independent Panel: Professor Sir Gustav Nossal (Chair), Mrs Christine Forster and Mrs Merna Curnow. The Panel co-opted the expertise of Mrs Carolyn Tanner during their deliberations (see appendix 1 of the Panel's report for details of Panel membership). The Panel was asked to submit a report to the Minister for Agriculture.
Process of the Review
The Panel came to the task with an open mind and examined information from submissions, discussions with a range of stakeholders and a number of independent reports, including those prepared for this Review and others undertaken during the past four years. The terms of appointment of the Review Panel included a requirement to consult with key stakeholders and to invite public submissions.
Terms of Reference for the Review
The review findings and recommendations were to address the moratorium on the commercial cultivation of GM canola in Victoria.
The review's terms of reference were to:
- assess the economic impacts on Victoria of the moratorium on GM canola
- assess the expected economic impacts of:
- allowing the moratorium to expire
- extending the moratorium
- recommend whether Government should allow the moratorium to expire or be extended
- recommend any complementary policies and practices that are required to address the consequences of the moratorium ending.
To provide a context for its report, the review:
- Describe the existing regulatory framework governing the release of genetically modified organisms
- Summarise research findings on the extent of commercialisation of genetically modified organisms in Australia and overseas and assessments of the economic, health and environmental impacts that have resulted.
The Review Panel submitted its report 'Review of the moratorium on GM canola in Victoria' to the Minister for Agriculture in October 2007.
Issues Paper – Review of the Moratorium on GM Canola
An Issues Paper has been developed to assist with the preparation of submissions. It outlines the scope of the review and issues on which the panel is seeking comment and information.
Submissions to the Review Panel
Submissions to the Review panel have now closed.
The deadline for submissions to the Review panel was 17 August 2007.
Submissions were open to any individual or group on issues that respondents consider relevant to the review's Terms of Reference, particularly on the issues raised in the Issues Paper.
Submissions to the review ranged from a brief commentary on a particular aspect of the current status of commercial cultivation of GM canola in Victoria, to substantial assessments of a range of relevant issues. No defined format was required for submissions. Where relevant, however, it was suggested that evidence be provided to support views expressed, such as copies of relevant reports, facts and figures or case studies.
As of 28 August 2007, the Review Panel had received 1178 written submissions, and 36 individuals and organisations had participated in stakeholder consultations. See appendix 3 of the Panel's report for a list of those who presented written submissions, and appendix 4 for a list of those who attended the Review consultations. Individual submissions numbered 248, while the remaining 930 submissions were copies of one of three campaign letters. Of the latter group, 262 were copies of a Victorian citizen campaign submission (sub. 9), 18 were copies of a Victorian Farmers Federation campaign submission (sub. 17) and 650 were copies of a Japanese citizen campaign submission (sub. 251).
Copies of submissions are available from the Department. To access these, contact the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport, and Resources Customer Service Centre (Phone 136 186 or 1800 122 969).
Review Panel Report
The independent Review Panel appointed by the Premier of Victoria to review the moratorium on genetically modified canola in Victoria finalised its report and provided its recommendations to the Minister for Agriculture in October 2007.
To assist with evaluating the economic impact of the moratorium, the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport, and Resources, supporting the Panel's work, commissioned ACIL Tasman to conduct an independent cost–benefit analysis.
The economic impact of the regulation of GM canola in Victoria 2007
Government Response to the Review Panel Recommendations
On 27 November 2007, the then Premier of Victoria, the Hon John Brumby MP, announced that the Victorian Government would allow the moratorium on GM canola to expire on 29 February 2008.
The Victorian Government has considered the recommendations and findings from the independent review and provides the following response.
Response to Review Panel's Recommendations