I thought it important to alert you to the Federal Government’s Review of its National Gene Technology Scheme. The government has a clear agenda to lift the state moratoria on genetically modified (GM) crops; remove GM food labelling; deregulate a number of new GM techniques such as CRISPR; and to allow the GM contamination of organics.

The Government is hosting a series of workshops around the country over the following weeks. I would urge you to register and let them know what you think of their plans to gut the regulation of GMOs in this country.

Places are still open to participate in Round Table discussions in:

Launceston November 30
Hobart December 1
Canberra December 4

Alternatively you can have your say online: https://consultations.health.gov.au/best-practice-regulation/review-of-national-gene-technology-scheme/

The OGTR is also shortly due to release proposed amendments ( http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/Content/reviewregulations-1 ) to its regulations. These would make Australia the first country in the world to deregulate the use of new GM techniques such as CRISPR in plants, animals and microbes.

Reviews commissioned by the Austrian and Norwegian governments concluded that techniques such CRISPR are GM and not enough is known about the risks they pose. They recommended that products derived from them require comprehensive case-by-case risk assessments. And earlier this year 60 international scientists signed a statement ( https://ensser.org/news/ngmt-statement/ ) calling for these techniques to be strictly regulated as GMOs.

The international trade implications if these techniques are not regulated here but are regulated by our trading partners, such as the EU or China, could be significant. Largely because of these concerns, the New Zealand Government announced last year that it would regulate these techniques as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Anne for Friends of the Earth