We support the State Government’s moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified organisms (GMO) into the environment and note that it is in place until at least 2019. The GMO free status of Tasmania is a vital plank in the clean green image of the State as it builds markets for high quality food. We seek your assurance there are no intention to change this policy. We note with concern the draft report from the Federal Government’s Productivity Commission, released on 21 July, relating to Regulation of Australian Agriculture. The report finds ’there are no economic or health and safety justification for banning the cultivation of GMO’. It recommends that Tasmania, and other States, 'should remove their moratoria (prohibitions) on genetically modified crops. All state and territory governments should also repeal the legislation that imposes or gives them powers to impose moratoria on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms by 2018’ and 'Food Standards Australia New Zealand should remove the requirement in the Food Standards Code to label genetically modified foods’. While there are positive aspects in the report for primary industries, we believe the recommendations on GMO are a threat to the marketing strategy of many food producers in Tasmania. We seek your assurance that the Tasmanian Government will be making a strong submission rebutting the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on GMO.
We are concerned that the Productivity Commission is not taking account of research done by your department of Primary Industries that found last year ‘ There is no need to trigger a review of the moratoria on the commercial release of GMO into Tasmania’s environment at this time. A snapshot review of Tasmania’s ten major trading partners reveals that, for the majority of our significant trading partners, consumer attitude remains sensitive to GM food products'. We call on you to publicly highlight the importance of Tasmania’s GMO free status at every opportunity.
We note that the Productivity Commission is calling for comment on its draft report by 18 August and will conduct public hearings from 16 to 25 August. However no hearings are scheduled for Tasmania. Given the importance of this issue to food producers, marketers and consumers in this State we ask you to approach the Productivity Commission seeking a public hearing in Tasmania.