Trusted Safeguards for Australian Consumers
The Australian Government regulates GM crops through the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) which independently identifies and assesses the health and environmental impacts of a new GM crop before it can be grown in Australia. Field trials are monitored after harvest and all crops are rigorously assessed.
Australia’s regulatory system is recognised as one of the best in the world. It is a system that has been developed through the application of robust science, dialogue and consultation, which are clear imperatives arising from this case. We must continue to work towards regulations that are fair for all farmers.
All GM crops, like the one grown by Mr Baxter, must be approved for commercial release in Australia, and must have been deemed safe by independent government regulators, like the OGTR, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) who undertakes a mandatory pre-market safety assessment of all GM foods and ingredients before they can be sold in Australia.
Australia’s organic certifiers are self-regulated (unregulated by government), including their requirements for certification and product labelling.
The zero threshold for GM crops imposed as a requirement for certification on Australian organic farmers (but not on imported products from overseas) is at the very heart of the Marsh v Baxter case. This certification level is not a legislative standard overseen by any independent regulatory authority.
Not only is this zero tolerance criteria inconsistent with major organic markets in the US and EU, it is not even consistent with current organic certification practices, which reflect the reality of agriculture, and have tolerance levels for other products and materials, such as synthetic pesticides, non-organic seed, and heavy metals.