Government research stations producing GE seeds for Monsanto
According to information released by the state Government, Tasmania is playing a key role in genetically engineered (GE) seed production for Monsanto at Departmental Research Stations at Cressy and Forth. "Tasmania has put itself into a key position in the foisting of Genetically Engineered crops on an unwilling public overseas by producing the seed for Monsanto, and this ill-advised government support for genetic engineering puts our clean green reputation on the line", said Peg Putt, Tasmanian Greens MHA. The Greens learnt, at a government briefing, that: * GE canola crops are being grown at Cressy and Forthside (Forth) Departmental Research stations for off-season seed production for Monsanto; * GE poppy crops have been approved for the east coast and north of the State, but the Department was not aware of which sites had actually been planned; * GE potato trials were undertaken in Tasmania about five years ago, but Departmental staff could not say where (although they thought it was probably on a research station) or what clean-up measures had been undertaken; * neighbours and nearby communities are not informed of the planting of GE crops, although councils are notified; * no protective measures to prevent pollen drift from GE crops are in place, and there is no state-based assessment process for GE crops in which the community can be involved; * the only opportunity for community consultation is if a person enrolls with the Commonwealth Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee to receive information, or reads the Commonwealth Gazette. It was also revealed that organic vegetable trials are under way on one of the research stations which is also growing GE canola. Monsanto ran into a lot of trouble in Europe with its trials of GE crops. It was the protests and destruction of crops by local communities and the general public that finally forced politicians to adopt a more cautious approach and to introduce more stringent controls. Monsanto is constantly on the look-out for more accommodating politicians and states which could give it an opportunity to continue with unrestricted promotion and production of GE material. It is very active in Eastern Europe, for instance, where the agricultural crisis is so deep that whoever comes with a bit of money is welcome. That Tasmania should find itself in a similar situation is an absolute disgrace. As Ms Putt points out, "Safeguards are woeful, efforts to inform and consult the community are non-existent, organics are being trialled where GE crops are also grown, and environmental, health and economic concerns are not being given due weight." Secrecy and the absence of clear policy directions regarding the growing of genetically engineered crops in Tasmania are very worrying, to say the least. As Ms Putt discovered, "obtaining facts on GE crops in Tasmania from the Bacon Government has been like drawing teeth, and now we discover that the growing of GE on the Government's own research stations is not a trial but part of Monsanto's GE seed supplies for planting in the northern hemisphere.