The World Wide Fund for Nature - Australia has condemned the peak body for sugar cane farmers after Canegrowers board member Allan Dingle called scientific studies about the reef
The World Wide Fund for Nature - Australia has condemned the peak body for sugar cane farmers after Canegrowers board member Allan Dingle called scientific studies about the reef "unsubstantiated scaremongering”. Mike Knott BUN071117LNP13

Grower's attack against 'scaremongering' science condemned

UPDATE: CANEGROWERS said it was not concerned that its campaign against the reef would jeopardise its relationship with green farmers or environmental programs providers.

"Canegrowers has shown time and again its willingness to work cooperatively with programs and organisations that seek to collaborate with growers," a spokesperson for the company said. 

"None of this is changing so government and scientists alike should continue to have confidence in Canegrowers".

Instead, Canegrowers said the proposed Reef Bill would "act as a disincentive to growers continuing with the excellent engagement".

"By implying that no matter what they do, it will never be enough and the goalposts will keep on shifting."

"The campaign against the Reef Bill is against the ramping up of the existing regulations on cane farming adding more bureaucracy with no clear benefit to grower or water quality."

INITIAL: AN INTERNATIONAL environmental organisation has condemned Canegrowers for an "attack on reef science", saying the lobby group is threatening regional investment.

The World Wide Fund for Nature - Australia has condemned the peak body for sugar cane farmers after Canegrowers board member Allan Dingle called scientific studies about the reef "unsubstantiated scaremongering".

To promote a talk by climate change denier Dr Peter Ridd, the Bundaberg Canegrowers representative said, "Cane farmers are being pushed to the wall by over-regulation based on unsubstantiated scaremongering around the Great Barrier Reef".

This comes as the organisation has launched a scathing television ad against the State Government's contentious reef protection bill.

WWF's chief executive officer Dermot O'Gorman said the organisation's campaign against the bill was "hypocritical" and "self-destructive".

 

Dermot O'Gorman.
Photo Contributed
WWF's Dermot O'Gorman. Contributed

Mr O'Gorman said the campaign against the bill would ultimately undermine farming investment to improve water quality and boost farm production.

"This attack on science, encouraged by the Canegrowers organisation, is hypocritical and ultimately damaging to both individual cane growers and the sugar industry as a whole," he said. 

With Canegrowers managing taxpayer funded projects to reduce excess fertiliser, pesticides and sediment in runoff on cane farms, Mr O'Gorman said it was "hypocritical" for the organisation to attack studies about the dangers to the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Getting to low down on the Mackay sugar industry from left Rob Cocco, Robert Quirk, Natasha Schwwarzbach, Royce Bishop and Dermot O'Gorman.

Photo Peter Holt/ Daily Mercury
Dermot O'Gorman, right, with, from left Rob Cocco, Robert Quirk, Natasha Schwwarzbach and Royce Bishop. Peter Holt

"These public funds were made available based on the accepted research that polluted runoff from agriculture was harming the Reef," he said.

He said the campaign against the bill undermined the efforts of farmers to pursue green farming reforms. Mr O'Gorman said individual cane growers had matched the government investment with their own efforts, calling it "a great success story about innovation in Australian agriculture".

"Now Canegrowers seek to denigrate the very science that delivered public financial assistance to increase farm efficiency and productivity." Mr O'Gorman said.

"Their attack on science begs the question: how can Canegrowers continue to accept Federal and State taxpayers' money for farming innovations to improve Reef water quality and lift farm productivity, if they oppose the very science that underpins this investment?"

Canegrowers has been contacted for comment.