GM crop sites will be revealed

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Genetically modified food

The location of GM crop trials in Australia will be published on
the Internet after a regulator on August 10 rejected applications
to keep the sites secret from anti-GM activists.

The location of genetically modified (GM) crop trials in Australia will be published on the Internet after a regulator on August 10 rejected applications to keep the sites secret from anti-GM activists. Six organisations requested secrecy over the location of GM field trials, fearing disclosure could lead to sabotage by opponents and thus endanger the farmers involved. According to the country's gene technology regulator, none of the applications met conditions to justify not disclosing the sites. "I could not, therefore, approve any of the applications submitted to me,"​ acting gene technology regulator Liz Cain said in a statement. Under an interim voluntary monitoring system, a total of 120 GM crop field trials, each with several sites around Australia, had previously been approved without their locations being disclosed. But new laws, which came into effect in June, meant the location of GM experiments, dominantly run by Monsanto Co and Aventis, could be kept secret only if they were proven to be "commercial in confidence."​ According to Cain, the applicants were unable to prove their profits would be threatened, and also failed to show there would be damage to the environment, to human health and safety or to property if the crop locations were made known. Australia commercially produces GM cotton but so far produces no commercial GM food crops. Aventis has 30 GM food trials underway and Monsanto about five, mainly of canola. Other trials are being conducted on poppies, grapes, lupins and cotton by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and universities. Monsanto spokesperson Brian Arnst said the decision was disappointing and the company would lodge an appeal. "We were acting for the growers who wanted confidentiality as many of them have concerns about perceptions in the community or stigma over growing GM crops,"​ Arnst told Reuters. Appeals against the decision can be lodged within 28 days, after which time details about the sites would be placed on the Internet.

Related topics: Regulation & Policy

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