Spuds are safe from CSG rise

CLAIMS coal seam gas could increase the price of potatoes twenty-fold have been dismissed by an agribusiness expert.

Independent candidate for Ipswich Patricia Petersen claimed the expansion of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry would see food prices increase by a factor of 20.

Dr Petersen said coal seam gas would pollute groundwater aquifers and kill off local food production industries.

"If we don't have homegrown production, our food prices are going to skyrocket," she said.

"If we're paying $1 for a kilo or potatoes now, we can expect to be paying $20 a kilo."

However, University of Queensland Gatton associate professor on agribusiness Ray Collins said Dr Petersen's economics simply didn't add up.

"It doesn't sound to me even remotely true," he said.

"If you think about the amount of land devoted to potatoes and devoted to CSG, there's no way prices will increase by that amount.

"That's not to say (CSG is) not a threat. I don't believe prime agricultural land should be used for CSG. I'm against it.

"But (Dr Petersen's) economics just aren't there."

Robert Hinrichsen, director of Kalfresh, one of Australia's biggest carrot producers, said he was very concerned about the industry and its affect on underground aquifers.

He said if water was polluted by gas extraction chemicals, it could affect Kalfresh's ability to grow crops and increase the cost of carrots for consumers.

"It could very well," he said. "If the water is polluted we couldn't grow.

"The destruction of those resources are forever."

Dr Petersen said, despite areas in western Queensland where CSG has existed for close to 10 years not yet suffering a loss of agricultural production, regions of Queensland would take a severe hit from the damage caused by CSG.

"This is a process that takes a couple of years," she said.

"If the coal seam gas mines were installed today we'd start seeing the impact in 10 years or so.

"You look at the experience of the US, where it has caused a lot of damage.

"They are well on the way to wiping out their export food industry."

The State Government said there were no indications food prices would rise due to the CSG industry.



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