GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS FREE AREAS REPEAL BILL 2015 [Second Reading]

23 June 2016

HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan) [3.14 pm]: The Greens oppose the repeal of the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003. The government has failed to make a case at this juncture that the gate established in 2003, after a thorough investigation and wide consultation, is no longer needed. It is true to say that at the time this legislation was introduced, genetically modified agriculture in Australia was in its infancy. Since that time, the process of seeking exemptions has served to give this Parliament the ability to scrutinise the potential impact of proposed GM crops and arrive at a decision on a case-by-case basis. In fact, this regime, including the system of exemptions, remains in place in South Australia and as recently as 2014 Tasmania voted to extend its statewide GMO ban. As the second reading speech admits, under the current gatekeeper approach Western Australian farmers have been able to plant up to 74 per cent of Australia’s total 348 000 hectares of GM canola crop, so those who want to grow GM can hardly complain. However, those who choose to be GM-free have every reason to complain and they have. It is these farmers who require greater protection from the GM industry. These are the farmers whom this government is repeatedly letting down. Instead of repealing the Genetically Modified Crops Free Area Act, we should be debating legislation to protect non-GM farmers. I will make my seven key arguments, not at length, as members may be anticipating; I have distilled these arguments for clarity so that members can clearly see the remaining problems with repealing the gate. Those arguments are, firstly, about segregation and the inability to effectively segregate GM from non-GM, and, secondly, markets and the zero-tolerance approach in European markets towards GM contamination and associated costs. I will make the point that we are not managing the situation well as it is. Thirdly, I will argue for the precautionary principle. There is still a lot that we do not know about GM, and GMOs must be examined on a case-by-case basis. Fourthly, on due process, GM crops are currently being grown in WA but the act serves as a gatekeeper. This allows parliamentary debate and scrutiny. Farmers’ rights are not currently being impeded. GM crops promote the unfettered use of Round-up and pesticides, and I will discuss why that is unacceptable. A pesticide that is known to be toxic and is linked with cancer puts us on a chemical treadmill. Fifthly, this repeal will promote animosity within the farming community. Ongoing conflicts will remain if we pass this bill. When the Barnett state government lifted this ban in 2010 for the commercial cultivation of GM canola, I predicted that it would damage the livelihood of non-GM farmers. In 2009, I moved in Parliament to disallow the government’s GM-crop order. I campaigned relentlessly with my constituents at anti-GMO rallies and in the chamber. In that regard the comments Hon Simon O’Brien has just put on the record that people are not marching in the streets are not correct. In fact, there is a very well attended annual march against Monsanto, which calls for more protections and to stop genetic modification in Western Australia. It repeatedly calls for labelling so that people can choose whether they buy GM products and regardless of whether this is the jurisdiction that ensures that labelling occurs, as representatives of our constituents, we can argue strongly that we need to label GM products. That is what our constituents want. I agree with Hon Sue Ellery, who I thought made that case very well in her contribution to the second reading debate.

Hon Simon O’Brien: How does it have anything to do with this bill? These are commonwealth powers, by and large, and you’re talking about the ability to prohibit —

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: In the context of my statements I have said that it is not true to say that this is not a hot topic in the community. The use of GM, the ability to choose not to ingest GM and the ability to choose not to grow GM are hot topics and we need to ensure that no matter what legislation we pass, the interests of the majority of Western Australians are looked after. So far in this debate, we have not heard very much from farmers who are crying out to use GM. In fact, I was in this chamber in 2005 following the thorough investigation of the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Bill 2003, which then passed. At that time, I was working for Hon Jim Scott, who was on the committee that prepared that report.

Hon Kate Doust: It was an excellent report.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: It was an excellent report. I think Hon Kate Doust was also on that committee and she will well know the tremendous amount of comprehensive examination that was done at that time. The point I make in this regard is that in the chamber at that time there were a variety of views from around Western Australia. Many members in the chamber at that time were in the farming community and all made very cogent arguments about the bill and whether in favour or against the bill, they fully debated it. What we have seen so far is a distinct lack of a cogent argument on the opposite side of the chamber from any of those members in the farming community who believe that we should have unfettered access to Western Australia. We have had a couple of very short contributions, which to my mind have not addressed the issue or shown the depth of concern that is claimed by the minister in this regard. In fact, the only thing we heard from that side of the debate is that this is an industry-driven bill. The industry we are talking about is not the agriculture industry in Australia; it is the biotechnology industry that sells seed and chemicals to the farming industry. Those are the drivers of this bill. This is not something that our Western Australian farmers are crying out for. This is something that the companies that sell a product are crying out for. If anybody wants to check the Hansard from the last time we debated this, which I believe was Tuesday, Hon Jim Chown made an interjection that confirmed that. The question was: why do we not have any more GM crops growing here? We have cotton and canola, as Hon Simon O’Brien reminded us, which have achieved that exemption. Why do we not have any more? Hon Jim Chown clearly interjected that the industry does not want them. It is because the biotech industry has not pushed the button on the state government to say it wants any more. That is not acceptable, because in my mind we represent the citizens of Western Australia and, in my particular view, I represent the environment, which has no voice and which is directly impacted by genetically modified materials which are potentially dangerous to them.

Hon Jim Chown: How?

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: All Hon Jim Chown needs to do is go to any of the beekeepers’ meetings and he will hear the debate against genetically modified organisms because they are frightened terribly—rightly so—about the introduction of GMs into their industry. The beekeeping industry, just like any other industry, deserves to have its business protected. I mentioned that in 2009 I moved a disallowance in this place, I think, on GM canola at that time. The motion failed because of the current make-up of numbers in this chamber and because, since the Barnett government was elected, there has been an intention to allow GM to be grown in Western Australia without going through the gate that we established in 2003. It was a very sad day when that happened, and there are many constituents out there who conceivably are represented by members of the National Party in this place who are very concerned because of this policy, and they rightly identify a member in the other place as the member who is solely responsible for driving this agenda. It is fair enough to question whether, had the Liberal Party had responsibility in its own right without coalition with the Nationals, we would be going down this road at all. It is certainly debated in the community that the only reason we have this problem is because of the number of Nationals elected into the lower house, I would argue, disproportionate to the vote they received. I want to make the point that in the intervening years since 2009, we have faced and are continuing to face the reality of our fears. Steve Marsh’s crops—a well-known farmer—were contaminated the same year as the ban on GM crops was lifted. In the intervening six years, Steve Marsh not only lost his GM-free status and endured years of litigation, but also now has to pay court costs. The state government has provided no protection for Steve Marsh, which is a powerful precedent for us to consider when debating to remove what little protections we have in place. Mr Marsh’s battle represents a fight for choice. He fought for WA farmers to be able to grow organic crops for a lucrative market without concerns about uncontrollable contamination. This choice filters down to consumers who want the option of an organic alternative to GM, and this should concern us all. The Greens (WA) have fought long term to keep commercially cultivated GM crops out of Western Australia. We are concerned about the altering of native flora and the threat to our native animals, the patenting and commercial control of life forms and the impact on the lucrative and clean, green image of the organic grower industry. Rather than remove protections as this bill does, there is a need for greater protections for farmers and also the broader community interests that I have mentioned. We know that less than one-third of WA farmers currently grow GM crops. We need to ensure that the remaining 70 per cent are protected. The Greens will continue to encourage and support legislation and actions that reinstate Western Australia’s moratorium on GM crops and introduce mandatory notification, assessment and licensing of all genetic engineering proposals, including strict environmental impact assessment by an independent scientific panel. We also encourage alternatives to genetically modified herbicide resistance in plants as it encourages the continued use of pesticides and herbicides because of their potential to create weeds, insects and viruses that are resistant to known controls. We also would work with governments to protect traditional sources and supply of plant and animal species and varieties to maintain the national seed stock reserves of plant and animal species and to actively support market access to these reserves. The Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015 runs counter to this approach and presents significant risks for all in our community, including farmers, both from an economic as well as a health perspective. In order to maximise farmers’ export opportunities, it is essential that we are able to effectively segregate GM and non-GM crops. It seems that even now under the current regime we are unable to manage the issue of segregation. Expanding the opportunities for more GM crops will further exacerbate this problem. I want to draw members’ attention to this and I did mention it in the estimates hearing. During its consideration of tabled paper 69, a “Petition to Protect Farms from GM Contamination Retain the WA Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003”, the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs wrote to Minister Baston about consultation on the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003. I refer to Minister Baston’s letter responding to this request, in which he stated — The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) has consulted with the following key industry representatives as to their views on the repeal of the GMCFAA from a commercial marketing perspective: 1. The Grains Industry Association of Western Australia … 2. Cooperative Bulk Handling … 3. Ord River District Co-operative Ltd … Further down, he goes on to state — CBH noted that whilst it does not have a position on the repeal of the GMCFAA, as a grower-owned co-operative, it will endeavour to offer a supply chain that is able to store, handle and market to the best of its ability GM and non-GM grain. He then goes on to state — CBH noted that segregation of other GM and non-GM commodity types will require the development of unique handling systems and conditions which may result in cost differentials for both products, depending on requirements and volumes. These systems are currently not in place. During estimates I asked whether the state government had any intention to put those systems in place if we repealed this bill or to assist the industry in its effort to put them in place. The answer given by the parliamentary secretary representing the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Hon Jim Chown, was unequivocal. He said that it is industry’s responsibility, not the government’s responsibility. We are changing the playing field and then requiring Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd to pay to deal with the new paradigm. Hon Jim Chown: Do you know how many segregations take place in CBH on an annual basis?

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: Does the member want to tell me?

Hon Jim Chown: Well over 50 segregations are carried out on an annual basis —

 Hon LYNN MacLAREN: I can only tell the member what the official —

Hon Jim Chown: They are done for a variety of reasons—for variety reasons, for quality reasons, for protein reasons and for GM and anti-GM reasons.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: I do not know whether the member was part of the tour we had when we first got elected, but we all had a tour down at CBH. Was the member there?

Hon Jim Chown: I have just given you an answer.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: During that tour we were shown all the facilities that it has for segregation. I know what the member is talking about. CBH does segregate. It is something it attempts to do. The former Minister for Agriculture and Food, Ken Baston, in a letter to a parliamentary inquiry, stated quite clearly that those systems are not in place. I am not the expert in this.

Hon Jim Chown interjected.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: We should listen to them. All I am doing is putting their official evidence on the record.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon Liz Behjat): Order! I notice that the continual interjections from the government side of the house are being made by someone who will have an opportunity at some stage in the future to address everything that is being said on this bill. Perhaps Hon Lynn MacLaren could address her comments through the Chair and try, as much as it is very difficult to, to ignore those interjections that are coming from the other side of the chamber, and then we can move along with the bill before us.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: As I said, the systems are currently not in place. Again, the Steve Marsh case is evidence of this. Hon Darren West, who is a farmer, spoke at length in this chamber about his experience. He talked about a load of his non-GM crops being contaminated with GM crops, resulting in the whole load being classified as GM. When we hear the testimony of farmers in this place, it is ridiculous to ignore that as the truth. All I am doing is adding it to the weight of evidence against this repeal. It is clear that we do not have effective systems in place to segregate crops and we do not yet know the impact of trying to better manage segregation, but there will likely be an increase in production costs. CBH also drew DAFWA’s attention to the fact that a number of markets have restrictions on the importation of non-GM grains, which must be considered when providing pricing and segregation. We know that the majority of WA’s canola is shipped to Europe, a market that has zero tolerance for GM crops. Europeans have paid up to $70 a tonne for non-GM crops. Given the difficulties segregating crops, it is imperative that the government takes steps to provide suitable protections for farmers who choose not to use GM products. Non-GM farmers should not be penalised, but they would be penalised if things continue as they are. The contamination of crops occurs because of factors that are completely beyond their control. I will cite a couple of those cases. Many cases have been mentioned in this chamber during this debate. In the Marsh v Baxter appeal, the President of the Court of Appeal, Carmel McLure, strongly backed compensation for the Marshes—decertified Western Australian organic farmers. Baxter had windrowed genetically modified canola to dry, and it blew onto the Marsh’s land, scattering millions of seeds. Two other judges disagreed with judge Carmel McLure, so the case was lost, but her clear judgement may offer scope to the Marshs to appeal. She said that, in accord with federal government rules, the Marshs’ organic certifier was right to decertify their land, so their claim for $85 000 compensation was valid. I have made the point that she was one of the three judges. The judgement from that judge has not been widely published. Instead, people are giving more weight to the two other judges, who had the alternative view. It is very important to recognise that that was not a unanimous decision and there was considerable evidence that one judge thought weighed on the other side of the equation. Judge McLure also found that the Marshs had spoken to Baxter, written to him and posted signage, warning that GM canola was a hazard to their organic certification. Mediation before the trial also failed, refuting Baxter’s claim that they could have settled the claim over the fence and a beer. As Monsanto indemnified Baxter for his legal costs, it has been no sweat for him, but, as we know, the Marshs may now lose their farm. The only course open to Steve and Sue Marsh was to sue Baxter or absorb the loss themselves. I have spoken on several occasions about how unfair it is that we set up a system that put them in that position. This is an opportunity to correct the problem and to put in farmer protection but, as it is, Steve Marsh is potentially the first of many farmers who has suffered market loss and court costs of an extraordinary nature to try to protect his livelihood just because his neighbour decided to grow GM canola. It is unacceptable and I do not think that Western Australians accept that the Western Australian government has done the best it can. There is more that we can do. When the commonwealth government passed the Gene Technology Act 2000, it agreed that the courts and common law were the way to settle claims of damage from GM contamination. The 98 per cent of Australian organic and conventional farmers who remain GM-free producers are unprotected. Governments should now create a farmer protection fund with a levy of $1 a kilo on all GM seeds so that the GM industry pays for the harm that it does. The fund would automatically pay out any GM-affected landowners for proven economic loss and extra costs or harm. A farmer protection fund would end bitter battles like Marsh v Baxter that split their community. Government action is needed now. The GM industry should pay for the damage that it causes. GM-Free Australia Alliance Inc has published its principles for farmer protection legislation. I also have in my hand its model legislation, which is designed to provide farmers with such protections. The aim of this legislation is to establish a publicly managed fund paid into by GM companies in order to compensate non-GM landholders for all manner of contamination by GM crops and to strengthen the protection of non-genetically modified landholders, both organic and conventional, including public land, from all forms of contamination by genetically modified crops. In the parliamentary secretary’s reply to the second reading debate, I would dearly love to hear his position on this because if GM crops are to be grown, it is considered a constructive way forward to at least have a fund that can compensate farmers who may suffer a loss due to that decision. The model legislation includes factors to use in determining compensation payments for contamination incidents. It says that the administrator will pay non-GM landholders compensation for economic loss or extra costs, which must include costs for detection and identification of GM seeds or plants; all GM contamination clean-up costs; lost profits; lost premiums on non-GM produce; reduced property values; compensation for time spent dealing with the contamination; and harm, when harm includes unwanted GM contamination for the full duration of its impact. These parameters, which determine eligibility for compensating non-GM farmers, are important, because currently GM farmers are liable for all these costs themselves, which in my view and the view of most reasonable people is a ludicrous situation. My Greens colleague in the South Australian Parliament Hon Mark Parnell has made repeated attempts to ensure that there are legislative protections in place for South Australian non-GM farmers. The legislation he introduced into Parliament also sought to enable farmers to claim for damages if their crops were contaminated by GM crops. The system in South Australia is pretty much similar to the system that we are getting rid of now. I believe it was in 2009 that the South Australian government reviewed its system of gatekeeping and decided to continue, and I will confirm the year before I finish my remarks. The point is that it is still possible under the new federal system of the Gene Technology Regulator to maintain a state gatekeeper approach and have those exemptions at a state level. Even in modern recent times, other state governments have chosen to continue that approach. In fact, I believe that Tasmania only reviewed it in 2014 and chose to continue its statewide ban. The case in South Australia is quite similar to ours in that there is a system of application for exemption. I commend the work of Hon Mark Parnell, who has proposed a good way forward to compensate and provide for damages for farmers in the cases in which limited areas are growing GM crops and exposing non-GM farms to genetically modified materials. Many members would be aware that at the federal level Greens Senator Rachel Siewert successfully moved a motion in March last year calling on the government to implement a national contamination insurance scheme that protects non-GM farmers from future contamination. The scheme proposed by the Greens was to be funded through GM crop levies. I will read the motion, because it is important to note that the Senate agreed to this motion, which makes a call on the Western Australian government. The motion states — That the Senate — (a) notes the intention of the Western Australian State government to review its Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003; (b) calls on the Western Australian State government to retain the legislative framework that creates … (GMO) free areas within Western Australia; (c) notes the enormous financial costs, including court fees and loss of income, that Mr Steve Marsh has incurred after having his organic farm contaminated by genetically-modified (GM) canola from a neighbouring farm; and (d) calls on the federal government to facilitate the creation of a national contamination insurance scheme that ensures that the clean-up and loss of income costs associated with cleaning up a GMO contamination is funded by levies on GM crops. Previous to that, Senator Siewert also introduced a private member’s bill that sought to properly label genetically modified organisms. Despite these initiatives, successive federal governments have failed to fully grasp the challenges that GMOs present. The fact that there is so much opposition to these kinds of protections is a reflection of my point that ensuring the segregation of crops is incredibly difficult, and there is very little appetite from those on the conservative side of politics to meaningfully protect farmers who choose not to be steamrolled into growing GM crops. This is a very real David and Goliath battle. Individual farmers do not have the same political clout as large pro-GM corporations. As I have outlined, the expansion of the growing of GM crops will further highlight our difficulties maintaining the effective segregation of crops. This will also have major impacts on the state’s ability to market itself as clean and green. It is far from clear whether repealing the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003 will benefit our state economically. In fact, it may well serve to have a detrimental effect. In a time when the Western Australian economy is transitioning from an over-reliance on the resource sector, it becomes even more crucial that we are mindful of how the rest of the world views us. We know that tourism presents significant opportunities for us all. Thanks to Tourism Australia, we know that when Chinese consumers select a holiday destination, they look for places of “world-class beauty and natural environments”. Allowing the unfettered use of GM crops will undoubtedly compromise these perceptions of Australia as a natural and beautiful land. Our neighbours in New Zealand, who depend on their clean and green image, recognise the opportunities of being able to promote themselves as GM free. Councils in New Zealand are developing policies that formally enshrine their GM-free status and are joining with regions in France and Italy that are GM free, as well as countries that are GM free, including Germany, Greece, Scotland and Latvia. There is widespread acknowledgement that being able to market GM-free exports is a major economic opportunity. I will read into the record an article by John Bostock on the GM-free market in New Zealand, because his words rang true to me when I read them. The article from March this year is titled “John Bostock: GM-free market boost for region” and shows a picture of Bostock New Zealand owner, John Bostock, and Mr Apple chief executive officer, Andrew Van Workum. The article reads — Just last week, two of the US’s best known food companies, General Mills and Mars, announced they will label all products containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. The companies’ move confirms the huge growth in North American consumer awareness and market demand for GM labeling—a global trend that will ultimately leave no place to hide for GMOs. More importantly, the non-GM food economy is booming in the US: in two years, launches of GM Free products there have grown at a rate of 262%—around 2000 a year. Hawke’s Bay producers are well placed to meet this growing demand given that our region’s fields are free of GM crops. The US is not the only market where GM-free food is now effectively the market standard for premium foods. Across Europe and Asia, people want GM-free food and are prepared to pay for it. That is why maintaining our GM-free status is vital to attracting top dollar for Hawke’s Bay food products. Farmers and growers who want to keep Hawke’s Bay’s productive land GM-free embrace science and are keenly interested in innovation that makes their businesses more efficient and sustainable. Science and innovation is imperative to running successful agricultural businesses, which are the backbone of the Hawke’s Bay economy—creating jobs and economic opportunities for the community. But while we can’t afford to turn our backs on science, we can’t afford science that the market place doesn’t want. And whether Federated Farmers like it or not, our consumers don’t want a bar of GM. Protecting our GM-free status will not leave Hawke’s Bay farmers short of options. Far from it. To date, genetic modification has been a non-event for high-value food production. It has remained stuck in a rut of generating herbicide and pest resistant varieties for broad acre cropping systems. Ninety nine per cent of all GM food in the world is grown in the Americas and is used in animal feed, in domestic markets and in products that don’t need to be labelled—hardly a winning economic strategy for the Hawke’s Bay economy. As food producers, it is of real concern that the president of Federated Farmers refuses to acknowledge the opportunities that GM-free food production offers New Zealand exporters in competitive markets— or the serious economic risks that GMOs pose for a food export-dependent country such as New Zealand. Dr Rolleston’s ideological crusade to have New Zealand food producers adopt GM is one that the country can ill afford, when market rejection of GM is so strong. His views are not shared by some of the country’s leading food exporters, including Fonterra and Zespri, who are quite clear that GM food production is not consistent with our clean, green brand. Horticulture New Zealand takes a similar view. Given how vital food production is to the local economy, it is fitting that Hastings District is the first in New Zealand to secure its GM-free food producer status under the local plan. It makes good economic sense to capture the benefits of our current GM-free status, and review the situation down the line. That was an article written only a couple of months ago in March by a highly-respected local grower, packer, exporter and a member of the Pure Hawke’s Bay brand, which I am aware of even though I am not a New Zealander. This is the opportunity that is forgone, and, from time to time, members question whether that is real. It is real. We have to accept that New Zealand is capturing that clean, green lucrative market. It is openly embracing it and its consumers love it. They are achieving things around the world. The last time I was in the United States, the amount of product from New Zealand that was on the shelves, even in places like Costco, was incredible, and it all has that clean green stamp on it. At one point, this country was on that road. We even had something called Western Australian Q Lamb. We were on that road of establishing that clean, green organic and ethical label. We were on the precipice of really capturing that market and going right along behind our New Zealand neighbours. Somehow, after the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003 was passed, we took a turn and lost our way. This Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015 does not take us forward; it takes us back. In and of itself it does not do that, but it does that through its surrounding implications. It puts our efforts in this area instead of developing that clean, green image, protecting organic and non-genetically modified farmers, and also developing conventional breeding techniques, which have proven to be incredibly successful. I will mention one of them as I conclude my remarks. I am sure many members have mentioned the Gene Ethics network previously. Having worked for Jim Scott way back when, I have known Bob Phelps for years and I commend his work and the work of the Gene Ethics network. It has discussed the complexities of the impact of GM crops on markets in its submission to the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s “Agricultural Competitiveness Issues Paper”. I do not want to quote too much of it but it is relevant to this bill we are considering. Bob makes the point — Section 21 of the Commonwealth Gene Technology Act 2000 gives state governments the power to establish GM and GM-free Zones for marketing reasons. All the canola growing states exercised these powers in 2003 when Monsanto and Bayer were granted unlimited, unrestricted and unconditional licences for the commercial sale of their herbicide tolerant GM canola seed varieties. Though three states unilaterally ended their GM-free Zone status (WA, 2010; NSW & Vic 2008) by allowing GM canola to be grown without the agreement of the other states or their citizens, Tasmania and South Australia have remained GM-free Zones since declaring them in 2003. This reflects the commercial reality of their primary industries and the sentiment of their communities. Herbicide tolerant GM canola offers no market advantages but threatens the overall marketing of the primary products from those states. Tasmania has already spent more than a decade cleaning up GM canola contamination from field trials conducted in the 1990s. If members are interested I can provide them with a link to the biosecurity quarantine audit report Gene Ethics has collected — We fully support the Tasmanian and South Australian GM-free Zones, as they are enhancements, not limitations. An increasing number of markets will not accept genetically manipulated products. Strong Japanese demand at premium prices for GM-free produce from Kangaroo Island and Tasmania are ignored in the official vision of a high tech future. Neither the high-fibre barley nor salt-resistant wheat being researched by the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics in Adelaide, have near-term prospects of commercialization. Even if field trials were a success, it remains to be seen if they surmount practical, performance and regulatory hurdles. Numerous publicly-funded Australian GM research projects that cost billions of dollars have already failed: e.g. weevil resistant peas, non-browning fruits and vegetables, longer shelf life foods, and feral animal biocontrol. There are no GM silver bullets as the burgeoning insect and weed resistance to existing herbicide tolerance and Bt insect toxin traits amply show. A just-published Friends of the Earth International report — Who benefits from GM crops, 2014 shows that GM crops and their global acceptance are dramatically declining … Again, I can provide that link to members should they wish to look at that — In summary the report’s findings are: • Over 90 per cent of GM crops are grown in just six countries: USA 40%; Argentina 14%; Brazil 23%; India & Canada 6% each; China 2%; 21 others including Australia 8.3%. • Industry figures show the claimed increase in GM acreage in 2013 was in those six countries. • This is not a global industry as 160 countries and 60 dependent territories remain GM-free. I believe I saw something yesterday that said Brazil had just decide to be GM free — • Less than one per cent of the world’s farmers grow any GM crops. • The number of countries cultivating GM crops is in decline, with Poland and Egypt the latest countries to suspend GM crop production. Bavaria has just declared the 62nd GM-free Crop Zone in Europe. What is happening with Europe? That vote was today. Does anybody know?

Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson: No, it is too early.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: Okay. The report continues — • Mexico, Kenya, Egypt and Poland recently suspended cultivation of some GM crops. • Ninety nine per cent of commercial GM crops resist pesticides or make their own insect toxins, resulting in increased pesticide use overall. • The USA, Argentina and Brazil have upward trends in chemical pesticide use as a result of their long use of GM crops. • In Africa, only South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan grow any GM at all but GM industry lobbying may open up the continent to GM crops, closing down other more appropriate and sustainable options. The GM-free states, Tasmania and South Australia, are also complying with the views of voters, citizens and all political parties. I will leave that there but I commend that report to members. It is the comments by Gene Ethics on DAFFS’ “Agricultural Competitiveness Issues Paper” of 17 April 2014. Gene Ethics is located in Melbourne, Victoria in that really groovy sustainable building. If members ever get to Melbourne, Gene Ethics would welcome them, and it has a wealth of information for members should they wish to find out more about the movement across Australia for a gene ethics future. The Greens support for a moratorium on the release of GMOs because of certain implications for our health as well as the health of the environment is based on the precautionary principle. This is something that Hon Jim Chown asked about earlier. We believe that there is still a need for research to be conducted on GMOs undertaken by researchers independent of proprietary interests. The World Health Organization’s position on GM sums up this point because different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. GM food and their safety must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The claims that reputable scientific body’s support GM are very weak. These bodies have not done independent study or independent testings and their statements are often highly qualified, as noted in a report of the National Academy of Sciences commissioned by the United States Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Environmental Protection Agency. There are sizable gaps in the knowledge and understanding of how these crops may affect health. So that members are up to date on the latest science, I want to quote a couple of paragraphs from the executive summary of The National Academies Press OpenBook article titled “Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects”. It states — This report is intended to aid the sponsoring agencies in evaluating the scientific methods to assess the safety of GE foods before they are sold to the public. The task presented to the committee by the sponsors was to outline science-based approaches to assess or predict unintended health effects of GE foods in order to assist in their evaluation prior to commercialization. The committee was charged to focus on mechanisms by which unintended changes in the biochemical composition of food occur as a result of various conventional and genetic engineering breeding and propagation methods, the extent to which these mechanisms are likely to lead to significant compositional changes in foods that would not be readily apparent without new or enhanced detection methods, and methods to detect such changes in food in order to determine their potential human health effects. The committee was further charged to identify appropriate scientific questions and methods for determining unintended changes in the levels of endogenous nutrients, toxins, toxicants, allergens, or other compounds in food from genetically engineered organisms … and outline methods to assess the potential short- and long-term human consequences of such changes. The committee was charged to compare GE foods with foods derived from other genetic modification methods, such as cross breeding, with respect to the frequency of compositional changes resulting from the modification process and the frequency and severity of the effects of these changes on consumer health. As part of this comparison, the likelihood that elevated toxin or allergen levels would occur in domesticated animals or plants that are modified by different methods was to be considered. Based on this analysis, the committee was charged to discuss whether certain safety issues are specific to GE foods, and if so, recommend approaches for addressing these issues. In addition, the committee was to separately evaluate methods to detect potential unintended compositional changes and health effects of foods derived from cloned animals. The evaluation is presented in a short subreport, separate from, but designed to accompany, the committee’s full-length report on foods derived from genetic modification methods. The report’s conclusion states — In response to its charge, the committee has developed a framework to identify appropriate scientific questions and methods for determining unintended changes in the levels of nutrients, toxins, toxicants, allergens, or other compounds in foods from GMOs, in order to assess potential short- and long-term human health consequences of such changes. Although the array of analytical and epidemiological techniques available has increased, there remain sizeable gaps in our ability to identify compositional changes that result from genetic modification of organisms intended for food; to determine the biological relevance of such changes to human health; and to devise appropriate scientific methods to predict and assess unintended adverse effects on human health. The committee has identified and recommended pre- and postmarket approaches to guide assessment of unintended compositional changes that could result from genetic modification of foods and research avenues to fill the knowledge gaps. Finally, the report states — The recommendations presented in this report reflect the committee’s application of its framework to questions of identification and assessment of unintended adverse health … and they can serve as a guide for evaluation of future technologies. The relevance is that we need to take a precautionary approach. It is not fair to say that the science is in, that it is all over and done with and that all the studies have proven that GM is safe. Whether it is going to be safe in our food or escape into the environment and contaminate other plants, animals or our ecosystems are relevant factors for whether we allow the unfettered growth of GM across Western Australia. A more recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report backs the findings reported in the article written by The Conversation online. That makes the report a little bit more understandable because being in The Conversation, it is in conversational English. Briefly, I will make some points that hopefully drive this home for members. The article was written by Peter Kareiva, who is the director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles—also known as UCLA—and states — I know many people want a definitive unqualified “thumbs up” or thumbs down” from our committee. They are not going to find it in this report. Because GE crops are developed in so many different ways, with so many different traits, and in so many different plant species or varieties, we cannot give a one-size-fits-all verdict. Hoping for a simple yes or no in this matter is akin to expecting a committee of experts to conclude “men are good” or “men are bad.” However, setting aside absolutes, we can say some things that should be useful to the public dialogue. … Continued regulatory vigilance is warranted. Any new crop variety with novel traits—whether genetically engineered or conventionally bred—should be subjected to safety testing, but in a tiered fashion so that testing is directed where it is most needed. Our report calls for increased transparency and public participation, and as a researcher in the field I personally hope that it catalyzes the establishment of open data bases tracking GE adoption and impacts. Really, that is somewhat reflected in the report from back in 2003. It said that we should set up a committee of the public that can track the adoption of GM technologies and can be used as a guide to government in decision-making. If members get a moment to review that committee report they would learn so much about this debate. Hon Kate Doust said she was a member of the committee and it was chaired by Hon Chrissy Sharp, who was a Greens member for South West Region at the time. Members would see that the adage in Ecclesiastes is the same: “There is nothing new under the sun.” If members look at the report, they will see that it highlights the debatable questions. It makes recommendations for how all persons involved can go forward, as Hon Sue Ellery mentioned yesterday, for not only for the GM industry, but also everyone involved. Perhaps the recommendations in the committee report could be reviewed in light of the desire to lift the gate. If there were an opportunity for such a review—if we went offline from this current second reading debate—I would think there is much material we could use in that committee report. To conclude with The Conversation’s article that tries to explain why this is important, I want to quote also from Leland Glenna. He states — Herbicide-resistant, insect-resistant and virus-resistant crops, for example, are three very different technologies and have had different social, economic and environmental impacts. New and emerging technologies and applications, such as CRISPR-Cas9, add further nuance and complexity. Finally, he states — New technologies bring both promises and perils, and aspects that are promising to some people are perilous to others. The report makes it very clear that assessing the experiences of and prospects for GE crops is about more than merely evaluating technical risks. Legal, economic, social, cultural and individual factors are also relevant. If we have a system in Australia in which a federal committee looks at the technical risks but then it does not have the capacity to look at the other factors that have been raised as relevant to assessing whether GE is safe, have we really succeeded in ensuring that Western Australians are safe or pursuing GE technology within the boundaries that the public would allow? That whole point is really about the precautionary principle and how we need to take a precautionary approach; it is all the leading science. I have stuff going way back to like 2001 from scientists who have assessed this over more than a decade. I have only really pulled out the most recent stuff to indicate that, no, we have not achieved what some claim we have achieved. An appropriate gatekeeper approach is still needed, not only from an ideological and political perspective but also because the science dictates that the other factors of social, environmental and economic impacts are relevant to whether we choose to grow GM crops. To distil it and make it a little simpler, I looked at the latest report from MADGE Australia Inc. I am sure that other members have mentioned the MADGE group. Fran Murrell has been to Western Australia on several occasions and has spoken out the front of Parliament House and been party to petitions and inquiries as part of MADGE, which among other things is known as Mothers are Demystifying Genetic Engineering. Its booklet titled “Fed up with allowing GM in our food: FSANZ” is a very easy read; it is something that most people can pick up and easily understand and it contains diagrams that illustrate the problems with the current system. It is also relevant to note that labelling laws do not require all GM foods to be labelled, thereby removing the right of the consumer to be informed about what they are eating. I do not want to dwell on this point.

Hon Alyssa Hayden: It’s meant to be relevant to the repeal bill.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: In this debate we are talking about growing GM, but the issue is about choice. The issue I keep coming back to is: do we still have the choice and are we exercising our rights —

Hon Alyssa Hayden: To the repeal bill—it’s got to be relevant to the actual bill in front us. Is it relevant to the bill in front of you?

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: It is, because the bill repeals the GM Crops Free Areas Act. I am making an argument about GM crops and whether we should still have the capacity to have GM-free zones, so it is relevant. I am saying that one of the reasons we would choose to have GM-free zones is the ability to choose GM-free food. At page 10 of the MADGE report, there is a very good summary of why we believe we are being denied the ability —

Point of Order Hon JIM CHOWN: I have a point of order under standing order 47—relevance. This debate is about a bill to repeal the GM Crops Free Areas Act. It is not about MADGE and it is not about food; it is about repealing an act. I would like the member to get back to the point in question.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon Liz Behjat): Parliamentary secretary, there is no point of order. Although I agree with you that the bill is a short bill to repeal an act, the purpose of the second reading debate is to discuss the policy surrounding the bill. Of course, in the area of genetically modified foods we are talking about an incredibly broad area. I note that the member currently with the call has at all occasions brought the debate back to why she feels it is relevant to the policy of this bill. I have been listening very closely. I have not been hearing any tedious repetition, which is what I think you are referring to. Debate Resumed

 Hon Lynn MacLaren Hon LYNN MacLAREN: Thank you, Madam Acting President. From the tremendous volume of information on this and the deep concerns of the Western Australian public about this matter, there is much more that I could be discussing than I am intending to discuss in this second reading stage of the bill. As we know, Hon Darren West spent a considerable amount of time on this, yet I still thought he was interesting even into the eighth hour of his contribution. We are not doing a simple thing. There is a lot of detail to discuss and it is critical that I, as potentially the only Greens speaker in this debate, put on the record exactly why the Greens are opposing this repeal bill. Not only that, the Greens were a key component in bringing in the act in the first place, so we are defending it with the energy that we exercised when the act was established. Debate interrupted, pursuant to standing orders. [Continued on page 3990.] Sitting suspended from 4.15 to 4.30 pm

23 June 2016

Second Reading Resumed from an earlier stage of the sitting.

HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan) [5.04 pm]: The report by Mothers Are Demystifying Genetic Engineering Australia Incorporated entitled “Fed Up with FSANZ” contains an article by Elizabeth Farrelly headed “We are being denied the ability to choose GM-free food.” It states — “nanoparticles, GM or BPA, all of which could be in your baby’s banana custard and you’d never know.” ...“Essentially, the government’s take on what passes your lips, and mine, is “trust us.” But can we?” The FSANZ website says there are mandatory labelling requirements for GM food. Most people reading this would assume all GM-derived food is labelled. In fact there are almost no GM labels on food. This is despite the Australian Food and Grocery Council saying, if all ingredients derived from GM needed labelling, nearly every processed food on the shelves would have one. The lack of GM labelling means the public is being misled and cannot make informed choices about GM food purchases. The annual Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor repeatedly shows the public has low levels of comfort about GM crops and animals.— That takes us to what we are talking about which is the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act 2003. The article continues — The 2011 “Labelling Logic” food labeling review noted “the genetic engineering of food gave rise to more submissions and more comments in consultation than any other single issue.”° GM crops are refined into sugars, starches, oils and other ingredients used in processed food. FSANZ asserts these refined ingredients do not contain GM DNA or protein and therefore, according to standard 1.5.2, do not need to be labelled. These ingredients do contain traces of GM DNA and protein and tests are constantly improving the ability to detect GM material. GM crops are also fed to animals but the dairy, meat, eggs, fish and honey from these animals escape labeling. This is despite GM DNA being found in the muscles and organs of animals eating GM material. Research has also found “that there can be a residual difference in animals or animal-products as a result of exposure to GM feed...” GM contamination “unintentionally present” at less than 1% does not require labelling. This has resulted in inaction from FSANZ after an infant formula tested positive to GM contamination. GM flavours at less than 1%, processing aids and additives and food from restaurants, cafes and takeaway outlets are also unlabelled. FSANZ has conducted only one pilot study into the labelling laws in 2003. That is when we passed the original bill and created the act to be repealed in the bill before us. The article continues — 22% of tested samples had GM DNA. None had labels. In contrast a New Zealand maker of soy sausages was prosecuted for labelling its sausages “non-GM” as they had 0.0088% GM present. The company pleaded guilty rather than face a legal bill of $63,000. It appears that food producers wishing to provide customers with GM-free produce are harshly punished for accidental contamination. In contrast foods detected as containing GM are allowed to escape labelling. This is entirely contrary to the public’s desire for GM labelling. The Public Health Association of Australia’s … GM policy calls for a comprehensive monitoring and surveillance system to track the effects of GM foods. They want a labelling system where consumers can easily identify foods containing ingredients originating from GM organisms and from animals fed GM feed. The Australian Medical Association’s … submission to the “Labelling Logic” review called for full process-based labeling of GM foods similar to that of the EU. They also called for a monitoring system so doctors can report if they think a patient may have had a reaction to a GM food. Further, there is some evidence that GM crops can outcross with other species. In an expert report prepared by Dr Christopher Preston from the University of Adelaide for the Supreme Court of Australia, the following observation was made -Canola can cross pollinate and share genetic material with other canola crops, black, white and oriental mustard, radish vegetables and with Brassica rapa and Brassica oleracea vegetable crops, such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, swede and turnips … The research cited is Salisbury 2002, “Gene flow between Brassica napus and other Brassicaceae species”—gee, I wish I had done science!—and “Report PAS 0201, Institute of Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne”. It continues — If any of these crops are grown at Eagle Rest, there is a probability that crossing between the volunteer canola and these crops would occur, provided they flowered at the same time as the volunteer canola. I have with me the report that Dr Preston made to the Supreme Court of Western Australia, if anybody wants to look at it in more detail. Concerningly, it seems that GM canola may be able to outcross with many common vegetables. The Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act has not hindered the ability of Western Australian farmers to grow GM crops since exemptions were granted in 2009 for GM cotton and in 2010 for GM canola. These two crops are the only GM crops grown in Australia. The Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act allows the state Parliament to perform a gatekeeper function. It means that there must be proper public debate before any new gene technologies are introduced into our environment. New GM technologies are being developed all the time, and it is impossible to predict what GM crops the future holds. It is in all our interests for mechanisms to be in place to enable the implications of these new technologies to be examined before allowing broad access to the growing of these new crops—that is, allowing the case-by-case assessment advocated for by the World Health Organization—because should, for example, a new crop such as GM wheat be considered for growth in Western Australia, the Parliament would then have the opportunity to consider the research and public opinion, and debate the implications of its introduction to this state. I now want to list the international and Australian companies that have a no-GM-wheat policy. We do not have such a policy, and there is no mechanism to have such a policy. If we lose the GM Crops Free Areas Act that we have now, and if the Gene Technology Regulator at the federal level decides to permit GM wheat to be grown in Australia, it basically can be grown anywhere in Western Australia. That is what we are debating today. The point I am making is that other people around the world have put a prohibition on the growing of GM wheat. Many companies that operate in Western Australia have a private policy excluding all GM ingredients. Aldi, for example, does not stock any products that are labelled as containing GM ingredients. Over 260 Aldi stores are currently operating across Australia. An Aldi store will soon be opening in the south metro region. Those companies are Bakers Delight, Brasserie Bread, Campbell Arnott’s, Coles, General Mills, Laucke Flour Mills, Menora Foods, Metcash–IGA, Sanitarium, San Remo, and Woolworths. All those companies are saying no to GM wheat. That is all very well and good for the companies that have made those decisions. That is clearly because consumers have led them to that decision. However, this state Parliament has no jurisdiction in that matter, and, if companies choose to do otherwise, they can. Many companies stock products that contain GM ingredients, but they are not labelled. The conclusion in the “No Appetite for Australian GM Wheat” report was — Evidence from across the globe shows there is a high risk that GM wheat will contaminate conventional and organic wheat varieties if Australia introduces GM wheat on a commercial scale. Contamination can occur at any point from seed to spoon via cross-pollination, misreading of labels or mistakes in handling, illegal planting, use of machinery without careful cleaning, spillages, or lack of effective segregation. The GrainGrowers’ report states wheat importers in South East Asia, North Asia, Middle East and Europe will not buy GM wheat now or in the foreseeable future. About 80% of Australian wheat is exported to these geographic areas. It accounted for $4.87 billion of the Australian wheat market value from 2010 to 2011. The GrainGrowers’ report also states clearly that the domestic and feed millers do not believe Australian consumers would accept GM wheat in the foreseeable future. These findings are in line with a significant number of rejection letters from major food companies in Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Italy, released for the first time in this report. The world wants Australian wheat to stay GM free. The implications of GM contamination on the global competitiveness of Australian wheat warrant a rigorous risk assessment. GM wheat commercialisation poses an unacceptable threat to a $7.5 billion industry. Given the risks to tax payers, wheat farmers and the food industry, any plan to commercialise GM wheat in Australia should be revoked The recommendations in that report were — That Australian governments must create a secure future for Australian wheat by adopting and implementing policies to: • ban open area GM in wheat field trials as they may contaminate conventional and organic wheat supplies; • reject commercial cultivation of GM wheat; and • support Australia’s cutting-edge research on sustainable farming systems. The premise of our position on the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act is that this remains an opportunity for us to reflect on any proposal to grow GM crops in Western Australia. It is fair to say that the federal government will be examining that at the Gene Technology Regulator level. However, the question is whether Western Australia, with its unique circumstances, will be able to take on board the views of consumers, and also of farmers who want to protect organic and non-conventional farming and prevent the potential contamination of other crops. As well as uncertainty about the impacts of genetically modified crops themselves, there are concerns that the use of these crops promotes the unfettered use of pesticides such as Roundup. I outlined at the beginning of my remarks that I had six arguments to make.

Hon Simon O’Brien: Seven. Don’t you short-change us! I want seven arguments!

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: Thank you very much. I do appreciate that! In that sense, I have arguments 6 and 7 to go, and this is argument 5, so those members who are listening can track where I am in my intended remarks. I want to make a point on which I think we all agree. We all agree that we want less chemical use in our environment, not only for the impact on soils and on air pollution, but also for the safety of the people who work on the land, to ensure that when they are using chemicals, they are not exposed to levels that cause them to develop disease. I am arguing that we should have a careful examination of the extra chemical usage that is required when GM crops are grown, which is contrary to the claims of the GM industry that it is using fewer chemicals. In my remarks in the continuing argument, I will lay out just a few arguments—I will not go through all the evidence—to back up that view. As members know, because the Greens were part of creating the original gate through the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act, it is very important for us to carefully examine all the reasons we believe that the gate should stay in place. In my view, repealing the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act is completely at odds with the zeitgeist of the moment. There is an ever-increasing awareness and concern about exactly where our food comes from and whether it is safe for our families to eat. Debate adjourned, pursuant to standing orders.

28 June 2016

Resumed from 23 June.

HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan) [4.25 pm]: I rise to continue my second reading contribution that began when last we met, when I outlined seven arguments against the repeal of the very important Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act. I will begin today with some points of clarification on what I said last time. I made the point that conservative governments have failed to listen to the dissent on the subject matter of genetically modified organisms, and said Senator Rachel Siewert had successfully moved a Senate motion that called on the Western Australian government not to repeal the GMO crops free areas act. Unfortunately, I got a bit carried away in saying the Senate had passed that motion; the Senate did not pass the motion. The point I was making was that conservative governments have not been listening to people who are concerned about GMO. One of the reasons the GMO crops free area act was brought in in the first place was to permit all farmers—those who wanted to grow GM crops and those who did not—an opportunity to grow the crop they wanted to. I have only a couple of minutes before we break into other business, but I wanted to put on the record that this issue has been raised by the Greens, and members of other parties, on many, many occasions. I did a quick search of the number of times I have spoken on GM, disallowing the exemptions moved by this government when it was elected and the important matters people have raised with me about contamination. For example, I made a statement on genetically modified canola contamination on 30 November 2011. There was also a request for an inquiry into genetically modified canola by me and Hon Sally Talbot on 21 June 2011. I have also mentioned petitions on several occasions throughout the years. But the main report that members might want to refer to is the Legislative Council report into the petition submitted just before we instituted and passed the bill that became the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act. That committee report goes comprehensively into all subjects addressed over the few hours of this debate, and I think it will inform us long into the future on the concerns of both farmers and consumers about genetically modified organisms, not only the growing of crops, but also the impact on our environment and the potential impact on our food chain, which I have touched on. I want to conclude today by addressing the other two arguments that I flagged. They were that GM crops promoted the unfettered use of Roundup and pesticides, and animosity between farming communities.

The PRESIDENT: If that is a break in your speaking notes, I am happy to interrupt proceedings because of time and move to questions without notice. Debate interrupted, pursuant to standing orders.

Resumed from an earlier stage of the sitting.

HON LYNN MacLAREN (South Metropolitan) [5.16 pm]: As I have stated, the Greens will oppose the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015. Just before question time, I said that on many occasions I have put on the record our concerns about genetic modification. I noted that I have tabled a minority report in relation to petitions. In fact, I tabled two—one on 20 October 2012 and one on 9 November 2011. Also, as I said, I co-presented a request for an inquiry. I also moved a disallowance motion for the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Exemption Order (No. 3) 2009on 16 September 2009.On 18 May 2010, Hon Giz Watson moved a motion to disallow a genetically modified crops free areas exemption order. The importance of bringing this now to the attention of the house on the repeal bill is that I have attempted at every stage to provide a voice for those people who are very, very concerned about the repeal of the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Act. In this instance, I would like to read into the record a letter from one of those individuals. As I said, of the many, many files I have on this, I intend to —

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon Simon O’Brien): Order! Hon Kate Doust knows not to pass between a member speaking and the Chair. I am sure she would want me to remind her if I felt it was necessary. Members, there is a little bit too much background noise. I know members have things to discuss but we still need to pay attention to Hon Lynn MacLaren, who has the call on the question that the bill be read a second time.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: Thank you, Mr Acting President. I want to put on the record one of the many letters from consumers and farmers who have a say in how Western Australia proceeds along this path of growing GM crops. As I have said, I have many, many files and much correspondence from people and I have selected only one or two voices to bring into this chamber for debate at this time. This one is dated 8 May this year and reads — Dear Ms Maclaren GM Debate: I write this as both a consumer and someone who lives part of her life on the farm in Orchid Valley and part in the city of Perth. Whilst I totally understand why some farmers may choose GM due to a variety of factors I believe that long term as it stands it is not sustainable. Sadly the science has been hijacked from the lofty ideals of some 20 years ago. As a consumer I actively avoid all products containing canola due to the poor standard of labelling in Australia. Personally I think it is a fabulous industrial oil that I do not wish to consume—it is used in the workshop as a lubricant. Increasingly my purchases are determined by ethically sourced companies who not only tell me where the food was produced but assure me that it is GM free. Personally I am very wary of our substandard food labelling and thus I vote when I shop carefully scanning every product I purchase. As a consumer it is my choice to purchase clean ethically produced food—thus free range eggs and chicken, the pork, lamb all ethically sourced. All Australian and preferably of known origin. The debate as a consumer is a nonsense. Like big pharma, oil and gas, these large international agri-companies are a law unto their own, they fund their research (sometime funding the university ton their behalf— however the outcome is known), they fund the politicians and have plenty of “gift or money” to lure people in. The major player being Monsanto have a very checkered history. They have consistently been proven to be less than truthful, always claiming their products are safe. Facts: 1902: Aspartame (saccharin)—linked to 134 know neurologic disorders, they famously had the head of the FDA removed when he was going to ban the product. 1929: PCB’s—banned finally in the 1970’s. PCB’s are one one the deadliest carcinogens linked to autoimmune disorders, birth defects, cancer and more... 1938—very involved in the evolution plastics business..., enough said—waste of oil and they last for how long in the environment? 1961–71—Agent Orange—millions of children suffered dreadful fates and how many soldiers? Yet they claimed it was safe … along with the rest of their history. No compensation has ever been paid to the Vietnamese populations so devastated by its use. 1972—Glyphosphate—European and Japanese scientists have declared it a potential carcinogen? Yet they said you could drink it. Not me thanks … somehow we stood up to them and it is banned here. Pity the poor mastitis ridden cows in the USA. Plus it is linked to elevated insulin levels. A rare win downunder. 2016—communities divided GMO contamination inevitable, sadly the fools that that run the place have allowed it to be farmed here. Monsanto say it is safe. However recall they have said that everything they have produced since 1902 is safe YET the evidence suggests this may not be so. Historically there is not a single product that this company has ever produced that is safe. It is a fact that globally the numbers of hectares farmed using GM has dropped. And once again I believe the price offered by CBH is significantly less for GM Canola. The World Health Organisation believes the active ingredient glyphosphate probably causes cancer in people, there is evidence of increased rates of a form of leukaemia in farmers who are clearly in regular contact with the chemical. That alone should be enough to sound alarm bells. Short term there maybe some occasions where it maybe a winner. Long term? Doubtful. Sincerely yours, The letter was written by a constituent in Caron, WA. There are many, many notable farmers and advocates for a non-GM farming future, and they include some people who I know are listening to this debate right now. I will list a couple of them, because I do not have an opportunity to add their quotes specifically at this juncture. I name Janet Grogan; Shirley Collins; Michelle; my former staffer Louise Sales; and Emily Wallis, because they have all acted in the public interest over many years to try to counter the information or what they believe is misinformation from the industry. It is not outlandish to suggest that any act of government that serves to promote the use of chemicals in our environment and unsustainable farming practices would not be supported by the majority of the communities that we represent. Families with young children in particular are very concerned about the health implications of eating GM foods and any foods that are coated in pesticides. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was recently subject to an assessment of its carcinogenicity—I practised saying that word beforehand!—by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, the IARC. The IARC classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans, which falls under group 2A. I will briefly quote from a paper released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer on 20 March 2015. It reads — For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures mostly agricultural in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals. On the basis of tumours in mice, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group C) in 1985. After a re-evaluation of that mouse study, the US EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans (Group E) in 1991. The US EPA Scientific Advisory Panel noted that the re-evaluated glyphosate results were still significant using two statistical tests recommended in the ARC Preamble. The IARC Working Group that conducted the evaluation considered the significant findings from the US EPA report and several more recent positive results in concluding that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, although it gave negative results in tests using bacteria. One study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby. Finally, it reads — Glyphosate currently has the highest global production volume of all herbicides. The largest use worldwide is in agriculture. The famous Seralini study found that GM maize and the residue from the Roundup herbicide after it has been sprayed on crops is toxic to laboratory rats. That study has now been republished. To make it simple for us to understand, Professor Seralini put out a media release. I have the complete report if anyone is interested in reading it, but I want to quote briefly from the media release, which is entitled “Republication of retracted study announced”. It reads — The 2012 study on the chronic toxicity of Roundup herbicide and the genetically modified Roundup-tolerant maize NK603 by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues has been republished by the Springer group, with open access to its raw data. Now there will be a few embarrassing questions for the authorities After two years of controversy and pressure that led to the retraction of the study in November 2013, which was first published in 2012 by the Food and Chemical Toxicology (Elsevier group) journal, the research team of Professor Séralini has announced that they have republished the study in the Journal “Environmental Sciences Europe” published by the Springer Group. By republishing their study with some new data which are available online, the team of Professor Seralini confirms that the world’s best-selling pesticide, Roundup, causes severe liver and kidney deficiencies and hormonal disturbances, such as breast tumours, at low environmentally relevant levels. Similar effects were observed from the chronic consumption of Roundup-tolerant GM maize. This is due to residues of Roundup and to the specific genetic modification of this maize. The formulations of Roundup, as well as Roundup-tolerant GMOs, should therefore be considered endocrine (hormone) disruptors and should be re-evaluated for safety by the health authorities. Winfried Schröder, editor of the journal Environmental Sciences Europe of the Springer Group, stated: “We want to enable a rational discussion about the study of Séralini et al. (Food Chem Toxicol 2012, 50:4221—4231) by republishing it. This methodological competition is the energy necessary for any scientific progress. The sole purpose is to enable some scientific transparency and on this basis, a discussion that does not try to hide, but focuses on these needed methodological controversies.” The research team of Prof Séralini made the choice of an open access publication in a peer-reviewed journal, which arranged the third peer-reviewed assessment of the study. The researchers have published online the raw data of the study with free access for the entire scientific community — something that the industry has always refused to do, claiming commercial confidentiality or intellectual property restrictions. But is there any real secret to keep? How could the results of a health study violate an industrial secret? Is industry hiding the actual toxicity of compounds that accumulate in our bodies and our environment? Dr Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, medical doctor and President of CRIIGEN says, “Pesticides such as Roundup and agricultural GMOs cannot be ignored in the explanation of the epidemic of environmental pathologies”. In addition, he emphasizes “the deficiency of the regulatory assessment of pesticides and GMOs, which endangers public health.” CRIIGEN is asking for free access to toxicological studies which have authorised the placing on the market of different formulations of Roundup, the free access to raw data on the toxicological urine and blood analyses for all products, and urges the legal authorities to undertake further public research, with a commitment to placing its findings in the public domain, regarding the possible toxicological and endocrine disrupting effects of GMOs and Roundup, as other pesticides, using long-term exposure periods to ensure the real protection of public health. So it is not just members of the public; it goes right up to the most learned of the scientific community, and these concerns are ongoing. Further, to bring it close to home, an independent witness report produced for the Steve Marsh case outlines some of the issues to do with plants developing resistance to herbicides. I quote from the independent expert witness report in Stephen William Marsh v Michael Owen Baxter, prepared by Peter McInerney on the instruction of Slater and Gordon. The quote begins at page 4 and states — 2. How and why does Wimmera ryegrass develop herbicide resistance? All weed species … have the capacity to develop resistance to a herbicide or herbicides, just as the so called ‘super bugs’ in humans have developed resistance to antibiotics that previously controlled them, … As background — herbicides are grouped by their mode of action (MOA) i.e. the way in which the herbicide acts to disrupt the function of or kill the plant to which it is applied. Groups are indicated by letters A through to R plus Z. Herbicides can be specific “selective” to grass or broadleaf weed species or “non-selective” meaning they kill indiscriminately. To appreciate how resistance works an understanding of some fundamental genetics and population dynamics is necessary. Individuals within any population, in this case of weeds, have different genetic make-ups and can contain mutations that allow them to survive rates of herbicide that normally successfully control the weed species to which they belong. … By applying selection pressure, such as exerted by repeated use of a particular herbicide group for example, creates increasing opportunities for resistant individuals to breed and multiply as susceptible individuals are killed. [3] Extract from Hansard [COUNCIL — Tuesday, 28 June 2016] p4108b-4131a Hon Lynn MacLaren; Acting President; Hon Martin Pritchard; Hon Kate Doust; Hon Ken Travers; Hon Rick Mazza; Hon James Chown As a matter of mathematics, the larger the weed population, present in a field, the greater the potential number of resistant individuals present. In addition, if the trait is a dominant trait, as is often the case with resistance characteristics, the population of resistant individuals can multiply even more rapidly under continuing selection pressure. A table is pictured, and the note underneath states — Note: Herbicide resistant individuals physically look no different to susceptible ones so there are no early visible warning signs that a population has increasing numbers of resistant individual until the numbers of plants not dying after an application of what should be a lethal rate of herbicide becomes of concern. At which point a herbicide resistance test should be used to confirm the level and extent of resistance. Those few select pieces of evidence point to the ongoing health concerns regarding GMOs in our environment, food chain and genetically modified crops. I earlier alluded to the fact that we have been incapable of containing genetically modified materials within the crop areas established by farmers; in fact, the trucking of GM canola can lead to its spillage onto roadsides, which can lead to increased spraying of more toxic chemicals, which in turn increases the risk of harm to the environment. This is of particular concern near waterways. So, what is the official treatment for Roundup Ready Canola roadside weeds? Spray with a 2,4–D herbicide, which is one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange. That will be on truck routes. Who is responsible? These issues were examined in an article called “GM-free canola market ‘at risk’”, which was published in The West Australian in October last year. Most members in this chamber would be aware that I have raised these matters several times through questions without notice. Every single time there has been a news story or some citizen science that identifies a spillage on a roadside, I have raised it in Parliament and asked Main Roads Western Australia about how it intends to deal with the contamination. Members would know that the Greens have not been fully satisfied with any of the responses to the many occurrences we have raised in this place. This is just one of them. This Jenne Brammer article featured on The West Australian website on 21 October last year. The article reads — The GM-Free Farmers Group and Conservation Council of WA have warned that WA’s markets for non-GM canola are at risk after genetically modified canola plants were found this week growing at five sites in the metropolitan area, in some cases more than a 100km from the closest grain farm.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon Simon O’Brien): Member, I have recourse here to standing order 47, which relates to relevance. I have listened very closely for a long time now, and although what the member is saying relates to the GM debate generally and other concerns, it is important, of course, that you relate your contribution to the bill. I am sure that you will do that because it is a subject dear to your heart. But the question before the house is that this bill be read a second time, and perhaps not all matters the member is raising are directly relevant, unless you are about to tell me how they are. Please continue, Hon Lynn MacLaren.

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: I am sure, as Mr Acting President has asked that question that he would not be the first person questioning that. Perhaps I did not make it clear enough in going down this road, but the point I am making is that the Greens oppose lifting the gate to permit genetically modified crops to be grown in Western Australia without the scrutiny of this Parliament to be able to determine whether it is appropriate. One of the last arguments that I have in this regard is that GM canola markets would be allowed to continue but GM free canola markets would be at risk. The article that I am reading right now explains how contamination has occurred and how GM material from GM crops has spread on to the roadsides and will potentially get into nearby crops from those roadsides. This article shows that GM-free markets are at risk should we pass the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015, and I want to continue by sharing with members the citizen science that was reported by The West Australian. As I stated, the article refers to five sites in the metropolitan area where genetically modified canola plants have been found and that in some cases these sites were more than 100 kilometres from the closest grain farm. The article continues — The GM-Free Farmers Group, representing around 150 WA broadacre farmers, raised the alarm after GM canola, which is resistant to the popular herbicide glyphosate, was found growing on road verges at Mundaring, Kewdale, Mandogalup (near Kwinana) and two Maddington sites. All plants tested GM positive. Many were flowering and most had fully-formed pods, meaning they could create more seed. The affected sites were along the main trucking routes to the Kwinana port and were the likely result from spillages of the tiny seeds during transport, the GM-Free Farmers Group said. Conservation Council of WA spokesman Nic Dunlop said this highlighted challenges to the State’s policy of keeping GM and non-GM canola separate for export markets. “The reality shows the GM canola is not being contained and GM volunteers can emerge a great distance away from where the crops are planted,” Dr Dunlop said. Europe is WA’s largest market for non-GM canola. About 30 per cent of the State’s canola crop this year was planted to GM varieties. Australian Oilseed Federation tech committee chairman Jon Slee said a 0.9 per cent GM tolerance threshold in European countries meant small amounts of GM detection did not pose a significant risk to non-GM market requirements, though the issue would continue to be monitored. GM-Free Farmers spokesman Darrell Boase, a Goomalling farmer, said Perth residents should also be alarmed. “The public are becoming increasingly concerned about herbicides being sprayed along road verges and in public spaces so would be outraged to learn of extra chemicals now being needed to control the Glyphosate resistant canola,” Mr Boase said. Mr Boase questioned who was responsible for cleaning up contaminations on road verges, suggesting it should be chemical giant Monsanto which owns the patent to GM canola seed, or the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, which is responsible for the State’s biosecurity. However, Monsanto corporate affairs director Adam Blight said the responsibility lay with the individual land owners, in these cases the local government authorities. DAFWA agreed removal of roadside volunteers was the responsibility of local government authorities and cited recommendations from the Office of Gene Technology Regulator for integrated weed management, which included alternative and additional herbicides to the commonly used Glyphosate, and mechanical methods. WA Farmers president Dale Park said it was only a matter of time before GM plants were found growing in Perth. “I expect Perth residents will be quite concerned, but they shouldn’t be as GM products are safe,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it is Monsanto’s responsibility to clean up any contamination, but if Monsanto wanted to be a good public citizen, perhaps this is something it should consider.” I do not want to labour this, but I think that point is very well made by that brief article. I mentioned earlier Bob Phelps, who is a co-convener of Gene Ethics. He articulates this issue well in a letter that he submitted to Farm Weekly about global weed resistance problems. He stated — Weed expert Stephen Powles finally admits that Genetically Manipulated (GM) crop plants, repeatedly sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) weed killer, have created global weed resistance problems … I am making the point that this is not a unique problem to Western Australia; in fact, it is a problem that is occurring worldwide where GM is grown. The letter continues — The epidemic of resistant weeds is costing farmers megabucks to manage, and many in North and South America face ruin. This is a point about the added cost to managing this weed resistance, which runs counter to all the claims farmers have that it will be cost effective; it has, in fact, proven to be more expensive. Bob Phelps goes on to say — In WA, an immediate, effective strategy to delay glyphosate resistance in weeds would be a state ban on growing GM canola. This would reduce glyphosate spraying in favour of the other strategies Dr Powles recommends. The state would be far better off with only GM-free canola varieties, since export markets want GM-free and pay — He is quoting a figure of — $50/tonne premium for a regular supply. Dr Powles should have spoken up sooner, to advocate management strategies that do not rely on the overuse of glyphosate-based chemical formulations. But instead he has been a very high profile and influential grower advocating the adoption of Roundup Ready GM canola. Let’s hope he changes his tune and supports a GM ban Monsanto was just irresponsible to make the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate into a targeted and specific one, by deliberately making crops that tolerate being sprayed with it. They knew GM canola, corn and cotton could out-cross their herbicide resistance genes to their weedy relatives. This word “out-cross” is something I want to go into a little bit of detail to explain what it means, because some recent research is pretty definitive about this out-cross feature of GM. To complete Bob’s remarks in this letter, he says — In desperation, the GRDC has now given Bayer $45 million to seek a replacement for Roundup. This may never come to fruition as many chemical companies saw resistance coming and started searching for a replacement herbicide more than a decade ago. None is in sight. That is pretty scary. Bob Phelps continues — It’s time to get off the chemical and GM treadmill and invest in agro-ecological systems. The World Bank and UN report “International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development” is a model that could show the way to really sustainable and environment friendly farming systems. It’s time for a change. As members would know, if the Greens are going to oppose something, we try to make an effort to explain exactly how we could do something differently. I have done a bit of research to try to put forward some of those alternatives to going down the path of GM. I have a couple of quotes about that as I complete my remarks tonight. As Bob Phelps said, GM farming does not occur in a vacuum. I referred earlier to the difficulties in ensuring that GM crops are segregated from GM-free crops. We must also be cognisant of the ecological effects of encouraging unsustainable farming practices, and these impacts extend beyond the boundaries of individual farms. Farmer Charles Massey, in the book Fair Food: Stories from a Movement Changing the World, edited by Nick Rose, describes the threats that accompany intensified unsustainable agricultural practices that are even more encouraged by the use of GM crops. It states — With the rise, and particularly the intensification, of industrial agriculture from the early twentieth century, the artificial management and resultant degradations of nature’s system vastly escalated. The massive use in the 1980s of biologically harmful synthetic fertilisers such as superphosphate, plus enormous doses of pesticides and weedicides, was followed by an increasing use of chemically dependent, genetically modified … crops. Mass chemical use has thus emerged as an ever more dangerous and damaging substitution for old cultivation techniques. Being vastly different and more fragile than the moister, younger and richer soil environments of Europe and the United States, where industrial agricultural techniques were evolved and refined, Australia’s ecosystems sustained (and continue to sustain) enormous damage from modern agricultural techniques. The destruction was epitomised by the ‘dust bowls’ that have regularly occurred since the late nineteenth century... This ecological damage has only escalated since, the spreading ‘white cancer’ of salinity being but one of many symptoms of crashing ecosystems across tens of millions of hectares in Australia. The focus on new GM techniques is detracting from other work being done using more conventional methods. An article by Natasha Gilbert entitled “Frugal Farming” states — Old-fashioned breeding techniques are bearing more fruit than genetic engineering in developing self-sufficient super plants. I do not know if members have read this short article. It explains how we can do things differently as a positive way forward to sustainable agriculture in Australia and for Australian conditions. I do not want to read the whole thing but I will read a couple of paragraphs. It states — Jonathan Lynch likes to look beneath the surface. In his quest to breed better crops, the plant physiologist spends a lot of time digging up roots to work out what makes some varieties extremely good at extracting nutrients from the ground. Lynch wants to use this knowledge to develop plants with extra-efficient roots—crops that grow well in the nutrient-starved soils of the developing world. These plants could also reduce the use of fertilizers in richer nations. Last year, Lynch’s forays into the dirt paid off. He and his team at Pennsylvania State University in University Park reported that they had produced a variety of common bean, or string bean ... with a combination of root traits that allows it to take up phosphorus from the soil with improved efficiency. In experimental plots, the plants produced three times the bean yield of typical varieties. That result has raised hopes in Africa, where common beans are one of the most important sources of protein for poor people. Researchers in Mozambique are testing how Lynch’s beans perform in the country’s ecological zones, and they expect to win regulatory approval to bring the crop to market by next year. Lynch’s beans are among the first successful attempts in a global race to develop crops that grow well in soils depleted of nutrients. “Low availability of nitrogen, phosphorus and water are the main limitations of plant growth on Earth. We desperately need this technology,” says Lynch. His work stands out because he has taken an old-school approach. He is leading a renaissance in some conventional crop-breeding techniques that rely on laboriously examining plants’ physical characteristics and then selecting for desirable traits, such as growth or the length of fine roots. And surprisingly, this approach seems to be outpacing the high-tech route. Big corporations such as DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, Iowa, have spent more than a decade developing improved crops through genetic engineering, and some companies say that their transgenic varieties look promising in field trials. But there are still no fertilizer-frugal transgenic crops on the market, and several agricultural organizations around the globe are reviewing their biotechnology initiatives in this area. Plant biologist Allen Good of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, spent years working with companies to develop genetically modified (GM) crops that require little fertilizer, but he says that this approach has not been as fruitful as conventional techniques. The problem is that there are so many genes involved in nutrient uptake and use—and environmental variations alter how they are expressed. “Nutrient efficiency was supposed to be one of those traits with broad applicability that could make companies lots of money. But they haven’t developed the way we thought,” says Good. In fact, I have personal experience of this. Recently I visited Davis, California, which, as many people know, is near Sacramento. The University of California, Davis, is one of the nation’s best agricultural universities. Just by chance, I managed to run into a chap from UC Davis who served as the agriculture adviser in the Clinton administration, I think. We got into a discussion about GM and whether GM was the future. I wish it had lasted a bit longer. We exchanged contact details. I want to follow that up with him. Here in Western Australia, we are talking about lifting this gate and being able to grow any GM crop that is approved by our national regulator. I assure members that other countries are taking a precautionary approach in agriculture. They struggle with the same problem that we have, which is the overwhelming influence of the biotech industry, which is driving this to make money—profits—for themselves. I want to conclude my remarks by saying that the debate on the issues around GM, coupled with our inability to effectively segregate crops now, let alone if the act is repealed, is creating deep divisions in the farming community and is eroding goodwill. Only last month Steve Marsh contacted me about his property being damaged by likely pro-GM advocates. Steve and his family had their lives turned upside down over this issue. Although the Marshes have a high profile on this issue, many others are in the same position, such as Ian James from Cunderdin. I conclude my speech on the second reading by reading the words of Ian James, a farmer in Cunderdin. Hopefully, this will inspire members to think more deeply about whether we want to repeal this act. He states — My name is Ian James and I’m a farmer from Cunderdin. In 2011 our farm was subject to a flood of water flowing down hill from the neighbours farm that had fallen during a sudden hail storm on a ready to harvest GM canola crop. Tonnes of GM canola seed flowed with the water out of the neighbour’s farm across the road and down into our farm. We called the agriculture department and asked for assistance. The AG dept sent an adviser to our farm to do tests but what followed was a process of windowdressing to make it look like we were being taken seriously by the agricultural apartment, when in fact we were the target of a cover up. After explaining where the canola seed was most likely to be found I was surprised when the technician went to other areas to take samples. Despite this the few samples taken were 50% positive to genetically modified canola. Soon after this we contacted Greenpeace who were quick to visit our farm with a box full of test kits. We used the test kits supplied by GREENPEACE to test the areas where we suspected the GM canola seed were laying on our farm. The results from our further testing were 13 positive tests on the first day and on the second 3 of 6 tests were positive for GMO ON OUR NON GMO PADDOCK. We are concerned for the many farmers who choose not to grow GM canola that their farms will be contaminated with GM canola and that the export markets will find GM canola in non-GM shipments of wheat barley or oats and these markets may shut down their imports of Australian produce. Another concern I have is that farmer who are growing oats for hay which is exported to Korea and Japan may be grown on the stubble of the previous years crop of GM canola now WHEN that HAY is raked the GM canola straw will inadvertently end up in the oats hay bail and be shipped to Japan to be fed Japanese milking cows the Japanese have a zero tolerance for GM produce and this could result in the hate industry in W.A. being completely shut down by ban on imports from our destination country. Today more and more countries around the world are shutting their borders to genetically modified produce and Australia is going to be ending up on the wrong end of the pineapple as we are growing more and more GM canola when the worlds consumers are asking for less and less. Do we really want to risk our unique position in the global food production supply chain as a supplier of clean green and healthy food or do we want to be known as a supplier of contaminated produce that nobody wants. Please make the right decision for West Australian farmers today and block the repeal of the GM FREE AREAS ACT.