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Oz GE Cropping Underway As CHH Gets Cold Feet

As forestry giant Carter Holt Harvey abandons its New Zealand trials of genetically modified pine trees, the summer planting program for GM canola crops in the south east of South Australia has started. Maree Howard reports.

Field trials for genetically modified pine trees have been abandoned by Carter Holt Harvey because the forestry giant does not want to be at the centre of a "political storm."

The company has pulled out of the trials citing consumer resistance to the process saying it did not want to compromise its commercial viability or community standing.

Two more trials approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority but yet to start, involve one at Rotorua where the Forest Research Institute is also planning trials on pine trees, and one involving sheep which AgResearch plans for the Waikato.

Meanwhile, the summer planting program for genetically modified canola crops has started at nine sites in the south-east of South Australia.

Aventis CropScience said on Friday that it was again planting GM canola plants in the south-eastern shires of Grant, Wattle Range and Naracoorte-Lucindale.

It was also revealed on Friday that the Australian Federal Government's scientific organisation, the CSIRO, is trialing GM pea plants at Naracoorte in an attempt to find a genetic solution to the pea weevil.

The Aventis summer trials have been licensed under the new Gene Technology Act which came into law in June.

The trials are designed to evaluate hybrid seed and create more seed for next year's trials.

"The new laws make the rules clear for all participants in gene technology development as well as the public and are readily accessible via the Internet," said Aventis public and government affairs manager Naomi Stevens.

"Local councils had continued their involvement in over-seeing the trials with their liaison officers making regular visits to the nine trial sites."

Ms Stevens added, "We expect some excellent results from this season's trials which will assist the development of our new canola hybrids ready for the Australian market in the next few years."

ENDS

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