Senate debates

Monday, 15 October 2018


Genetically Modified Organisms

4:30 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

  (i) the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) has recommended, in draft amendments, that organisms that have been altered by SDN-1 techniques (site directed nuclease techniques without a repair template) not be considered as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the purposes of the Gene Technology Act 2000,

  (ii) if this recommendation is adopted, traceability of SDN-1 altered organisms will not be required,

  (iii) SDN-1 altered organisms will be considered as GMOs within the European Union as a consequence of a recent European Court of Justice ruling,

  (iv) the European Union has zero tolerance for unapproved GMOs and the presence of unapproved GMOs in any food product, and therefore traceability for all food imports into the European Union will be required,

  (v) a failure to regulate SDN-1 technologies and their presence in the Australian food supply chain could, therefore, potentially jeopardise billions of dollars of agricultural exports to the European Union, and

  (vi) adopting the recommendations of the OGTR and removing traceability for SDN-1 techniques could also undermine the state-based moratoriums in place in South Australia and Tasmania on GMOs; and

(b) calls on the ministerial members of the Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology to delay any consideration of the recommendations of the OGTR until the impact of this amendment on the sustainability of Australian agricultural exports and our state and territory GMO moratoriums can be clarified.

Photo of Anthony ChisholmAnthony Chisholm (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Anthony ChisholmAnthony Chisholm (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This dysfunctional government has not explained the proposed changes to Labor or the parliament. Labor has now requested a briefing from the government. In the meantime, Labor will support this motion, which calls for further consideration of the impact of the proposed changes. In doing so, we seek clarification from the Australian Greens on this issue. In January 2016, shortly after he became Greens leader, Senator Di Natale announced that the Greens had embraced science and now supported GMOs; then Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon protested by making a financial donation to anti-GM activist group Gene Ethics; and now Senator Rice also seems to be contradicting her leader, with this motion critical of GMOs. Senator Rice, do the Greens agree with Senator Di Natale or former Senator Rhiannon?

Question agreed to.