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ABARE report finds ready export markets for GM crops

A new report has found that there are ready-markets for GM crops around the world, Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said today.

Mr Truss said the report - Market Access Issues for GM Products: Implications for Australia - was produced by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).

"The finding that there are ready export markets for GM farm produce is good news for Australian farmers, particularly in light of the Gene Technology Regulator's decision last Friday (25 July) to grant the first licence in this country to commercially plant GM canola," Mr Truss said.

"One of the major considerations for farmers in deciding whether to use GM crops is the concern that any potential market access difficulties might outweigh the agronomic and environmental benefits. In the case of GM canola, the ABARE report clearly suggests that they do not.

"The Gene Technology Regulator found that commercial growing of Bayer InVigor GM canola represented no greater risk to the environment or human health and safety than non-GM varieties already commercially available.

"In light of the ABARE report, the States and Territories should seriously reconsider any plans for the introduction of additional regulation of GM canola in the belief that they are protecting our markets.

"The Federal Government firmly believes that, once a science-based decision has been made by the Gene Technology Regulator, all commercial decision-making should be left to the industry."

The ABARE report concludes that there is little evidence that GM-producing countries are experiencing difficulties in gaining market access for their non-GM grains. ABARE also found little evidence that consumers are prepared to pay higher prices for products that are certified as not containing GM materials.

Mr Truss said that, significantly, the report highlights the rapid uptake of GM crops in many major producing countries - particularly in North and South America, and China. GM producers already dominate many segments of the world grain trade, with market shares of 79 per cent for maize, 69 per cent for soybeans, 53 per cent for cottonseed and 42 per cent for canola.

"Australia cannot afford to bury its head in the sand on this issue," he said. "By denying our farmers access to the significant, potential benefits of GM technology - benefits such as increased yield and oil content - we run the risk of slipping behind as a major grain exporter."

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