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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3200..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

in New South Wales, there would be no point in having legislation in the ACT that encouraged biotechnology research organisations and firms to locate or relocate their research activities to New South Wales. All genetically modified research would continue to be conducted according to the stringent licence conditions imposed and monitored by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.

At my suggestion, the government has proposed an amendment to establish an advisery council to assist the minister to make better-informed decisions on the question of exemptions from a moratorium order. The minister must consult the advisery council and if he or she does not follow its recommendations he or she must make the reasons publicly available. I agree with the composition of the advisery council, including the government's foreshadowed amendment to add, first, a person with professional skills or experience in the marketing of food crops and, secondly, a person to represent the community generally.

The main weakness of the bill is that, although there are references to marketing, there is no definition or explanation of what is meant by marketing. Perhaps that was deliberate. The purpose of the bill is to prohibit the cultivation of certain GM plants to preserve the identity-that is, keep separate-of other crops for marketing purposes. That should be clarified.

The assumption seems to be that marketing means selling and collecting a payment. That may be a common belief. But in fact there is a wide range of functions which marketing encompasses such as:

the definition and measurement of quality;

the provision of information on quality, availability, time and method of delivery;

transport method, time and cost;

segregation;

storage;

blending for specific end uses;

evaluation of risk-who bears it and capacity to trade risk; and

the quality, time, risk, price spectrum and so on.

The essential point is that many of these questions should be evaluated, even though no product is actually sold. The legislation should therefore allow trials to be conducted so that useful knowledge about marketing can be gained. The minister might like to take a stab at clarifying what "marketing" means and assure the Assembly that trials conducted to research and evaluate marketing issues, without selling the product, will be permitted.

There is some dilemma. Depending on which bit you go to throughout all the legislation in the ACT-indeed in the federal legislation-there are myriad uses of the word "marketing" in various pieces of legislation. It may be that the vague way in which it is used here in the legislation may prove useful. It would be interesting to know what the government has done to clarify the issue.

Research into gene technology has enormous potential to improve the safety and quality of food; to produce more of it through more efficient uptake of soil nutrients, using fewer quantities of fertiliser, and fewer herbicides and pesticides; and to improve


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