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Notice given 9 May 2003

1447  Senator Harris: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—

(1) (a) Can the Minister advise why the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) was set up with such restricted terms of reference; (b) why is it that the OGTR can only look at aspects of the introduction of genetically-modified (GM) material into Australia under the terms of ‘health and environment’.

(2) Why was the Gene Technology Grains Committee (GTGC) put together with a majority of ‘pro-GM’ interests; and (b) why did it ignore submissions that do not agree with its philosophy.

(3) (a) Is the Minister aware that the ‘Canola Industry Stewardship Protocols’ ignore any aspect of possible and very probable on-farm contamination of GM canola into non-GM canola, either through direct grains contamination or, the most likely and by far the greatest source of probable contamination, environmental transfer via pollen, bees, etc.; and (b) what steps has the department taken to scrutinise the possibility of contamination of non-GM canola.

(4) Can the Minister explain how and why the GTGC has been able to place the onus, responsibility and, ultimately, liability on everyone else except the technology providers in its ‘Canola Industry Stewardship Protocols’.

(5) Can a copy of the final report relating to Bayer for Invigor Canola, Crop Management Plan, that was passed by the OGTR, be provided to the Senate and the industry.

(6) Why is it that the New South Wales Farmers’ Association (NSWFA) and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) refuse to survey their own members to gain a grass roots feeling of GM canola.

(7) Can documentation be provided on how many members or executive members of the NSWFA and the VFF were invited or taken on a fact-finding tour to the United States of America by the technology providers.

(8) (a) Is the Minister aware that the New Zealand Agricultural Minister said, in late 2002, that ‘New Zealand was very unlikely to gain a Free Trade Agreement with America because of our stance on GM crops and our stance on nuclear ships’; and (b) what commitments has the Australian Government made to be able to have a free trade agreement with America.