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IBAC Advice To Delay Concerns Farmers

28 September 1999 PR102/99

IBAC ADVICE TO DELAY CONCERNS FARMERS

"The Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council's advice to Government that the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) hold off consideration of any releases of genetically modified plants is concerning," Federated Farmers President Alistair Polson said today.

"IBAC has said that their recommendation is to allow their own public consultation to run its course before ERMA considers any application to release any genetically modified plants. IBAC is reacting to a hypothetical situation."

"The Environmental Risk Management Authority has not received any applications to release genetically modified plants. Any application would have to go through a full public consultation. This would take months."

"Federated Farmers told IBAC today that this should not be used as an excuse to draw out consideration of these issues indefinitely. IBAC was set up to stimulate dialogue and enhance public understanding about biotechnology, not to be a second line regulatory authority. There is serious risk of inertia in this important area."

"Farmers totally support the need to assess the health and environmental risks of genetically modified organisms through ERMA. Farmers are getting frustrated with the lack of good information coming forward," Mr Polson said.

"IBAC must report within a finite period".

"We are also disappointed with IBAC's advice because it has the potential to undermine the regulatory process set up by Parliament under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act," concluded Mr Polson.

ENDS


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