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Democrats call for greater quarantine protection for NSW bananas.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/986 THURSDAY 30 SEPTEMEBER 2004 SENATOR ADEN RIDGEWAY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS SENATOR FOR NSW DEMOCRATS CALL FOR GREATER QUARANTINE PROTECTION FOR NSW BANANAS The Australian Democrats today called for strong safeguards for a science based quarantine system, full scrutiny of genetically modified crops and nuclear irradiation of food, and better promotion of organic farming as a part of their Food Security policy. Democrats Senator for NSW, Aden Ridgeway, said Australia as an Island Continent has an enviable reputation for clean, green farming and that this must be defended for the future of NSW banana growing communities. "The Coffs Harbour region has 379 plantations producing over 19,000 tonnes of bananas every year," Senator Ridgeway said. "The most fundamental challenge banana growers face is the watering down of our quarantine system, with the Howard Government's Biosecurity Australia wanting to approve the importation of Filipino bananas, New Zealand apples and US pork despite the real risk of disease outbreaks. "Farmers should be able to trust the government to protect them from disease ridden imports, but Biosecurity Australia has failed to gain the confidence of farmers with its ‘least trade restrictive’ approach to new imports. "The Democrats are calling for the abolition of Biosecurity Australia and for it to be replaced by an independent statutory authority. "The measures proposed in their revised draft Import Risk Assessment report on Filipino bananas released in June were not good enough and potentially leave Australian banana crops open to the risk of Moko and other banana diseases. "Any risk of disease would then increase cost of production, require greater use of chemicals and further threaten our environment and our reputation as clean, green farmers." Senator Ridgeway said consumers were becoming more and more conscious of the origin, content quality of the food they were eating and greater security of food was justified. "The Democrats Food Security Plan would give consumers and farmers more confidence about the food produced and sold in Australia and help defend our clean, green reputation," he concluded. Media Contact - Liz Willis 0417 410 506 News releases can also be sent by email. Please advise us if you want to join the email distribution list.