The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Chapter 15: The Australian biotechnology regulatory framework: issues concerning adventitious presence (AP), co-existence, liability and coherence
One of the issues facing the sustainable supply of food, particularly when imported products are included in the supply-chain, is quality that is the content and the provenance of the product. It is internationally contentious as to the purity levels required for a crop to be admitted to the market, and with some crops the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is becoming a common stumbling block. There is a divergence between perceptions of what constitutes an organic crop, a traditional crop and a biotechnology enhanced GM crop and their potential interactions. Concepts of environmental justice, discussed from many perspectives in this volume, get traction neither at the macro level of international trade talks on crops nor at local level in conflicts between neighbouring farmers. Unlike the United States of America and Canada, Australia has dedicated biotechnology legislation. The Gene Technology Act 2000 and the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 regulate gene technology at the federal level in Australia. Despite the regulatory framework, currently Australian agricultural biotechnology is facing many issues: for example coherence and co-existence with ‘legacy’ crops; the Adventitious Presence (AP) of genes and plants; liability for economic loss and impact on international trade. AP and liability are highly contentious issues.
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