Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Organic lobby holds firm

The outcome of the Western Australia court case won't change certification standards

June 3, 2014 3:20am

The Supreme Court case between Western Australian farmers Steve Marsh and Michael Baxter opened a fresh can of worms after the ruling last Wednesday.

Because the Australian organic standard considers cross pollination to be contamination, the disagreement between the GM and organic sectors on the rules and legal protection of the respective industries has flared.

While GM foods are legal, the consumer demand for organic food is noticeable and the Australian Organic Market Report found 62 per cent of organic consumers bought organic because it was non-GM.

Australia is the only country with an organic certification standard that requires organic foods to be 100 per cent GM-free.

Australian Organic’s chairman Andrew Monk said the organisation would stand behind the Australian certified organic standard and the organisation wanted to see a review of the laws and codes of GM production.

He said increasing land buffer zones between properties and changing harvesting practices would help reduce genetic contamination risks.

‘‘Unfortunately GM technology has imposed some significant additional risk management and testing requirements on the organic sector,’’ Dr Monk said.

‘‘GM testing has joined the ranks of the pesticide and herbicide tests that we already do.’’

He said Australian Organic would continue to stand by its Australian Certified Organic Standard which prohibited GM materials.

‘‘Growing food without synthetic chemicals, without cages and without the use of hormones, antibiotics and GM is not an ideology,’’ Dr Monk said.

‘‘It’s not ideological to meet consumer expectations, it’s good business sense.’’

According to IBISWorld, organic farming was one of Australia’s best performing agricultural industries and expected to grow 50 per cent due to customer demand in the next five years.

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