Brumby - is he the GM Premier?

By Gregor Heard
Updated January 5 2016 - 6:14pm, first published August 2 2007 - 11:00pm

By GREGOR HEARDHE’S the politician famous for saying he’d be happy to grow genetically modified (GM) crops on his own farm. And now he sits at the helm of the Victorian Government, proponents of GM technology are hoping John Brumby will ensure the State lets the current moratorium on GM crops sunset in March.Chair of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) GM working group Andrew Weidemann said it was good to have a supporter of GM technology at the helm.But Mr Weidemann said former premier Steve Bracks had also been very positive about the prospect of GM in recent times, meaning the changeover in leaders may not have much influence on the moratorium decision.Mr Weidemann said he believed the signs for the end of the moratorium were very good given Victoria’s conscious push to become a world biotechnology leader.“The state wants to be a biotech capital and you can’t do one without the other.“Realistically you can’t promote yourself as a biotech hub without having access to this technology. Mr Weidemann said the VFF was now in full swing campaigning to have the moratorium lifted.“The panel review process is under way and we will be meeting with the government later this week to present our case. “The signs look good so far, but we’ll know more about what they are thinking later this week.”Mr Weidemann said GM canola was “just the tip of the iceberg”.“One of the reasons the early work here focused on canola was because the research was more advanced,” he said.“Now we are seeing advances such as the work on drought and salt tolerant wheat lines, and people can see the environmental and economic benefits there.“People see these lines as having potential for areas that haven’t been able to have an income in the drought.“Imagine a variety which allowed just some return through the drought. With a drought premium for grain, it would have been a huge boon for the rural economy.”Mr Brumby has been on the record saying he would grow GM crops on his sheep and olive enterprise, at Sutton Grange, south of Bendigo.However, a number of growers in the Sutton Grange area, where Mr Brumby farms, have expressed concern over Mr Brumby’s stance on GM, saying they want to see the moratorium extended due to concerns over the environment and damage to international markets sustained by not being able to assure produce is GM-free.* More next week.

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