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Barnett's Weasel Words on SDN1 Deregulation

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Tags: GMOs, Primary Industries, Biosecurity

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Primary Industries spokesperson

Today’s announcement that the moratorium on Genetically Modified Organisms would be extended by 10 years is welcome news.

Unfortunately, this is overshadowed by the fact that the Federal decision to declassify SDN1 techniques as GMOs means that our moratorium will not, and cannot under Commonwealth law, exclude GMOs edited by SDN1 techniques.

The deregulation of SND1 edited GMOs is being done on the basis that these GMOs contain mutations that could occur in nature.  This is a flawed premise, as studies have found examples of unintended mutations at off-target sites.

Furthermore, many importers with restrictions on GMO and GMO-contaminated produce classify SDN1 edited organisms as GMOs.

Given that Tasmania’s moratorium is on marketing grounds, this unquestionably compromises our producers and exporters.

Minister Barnett’s assurances that he “will continue to work with our exporters and our stakeholders to address any potential market implications if they arise” are inadequate.

By the time market implications arise, it may be too late to correct without a tremendous amount of time and resources. DPIPWE is still cleaning up decades-old GM-canola trial sites.

The Minister needs to act now to prevent SDN1 edited organisms from entering into, and being produced in, Tasmania. A reactive response to “potential market implications if they arise” is not safe for our producers, nor is it practical.

We understand that the new Biosecurity Act 2019 is a potential avenue for this control to occur, and urge Minister Barnett to examine this and all other options to protect Tasmania’s prized GMO-free status.