GENET archive


2-Plants: GE contamination in canola in West Australia

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GM contamination found in WA - farmers insist on recall
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
DATE:   7 Aug 2005

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GM contamination found in WA - farmers insist on recall

The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) have announced evidence of GM
contamination in West Australia following testing of canola samples in
stored canola. A series of preliminary tests were undertaken by
Cooperative Bulk Handling (CBH) and some revealed very small levels of GM
content which have been sent overseas for further testing.

"This is very serious and if results are positive, recall needs to be
addressed urgently," said Julie Newman, NCF National Spokesperson and
West Australian farmer.

"Farmers can't afford to throw away our GM-free status as more and more
markets are demanding no tolerance of any GM seeds in consignments."

Concern to a possibility of contamination was raised when a consignment
of canola was found to be contaminated in Victoria and it was speculated
that it could be in a newly released seed line also sold in West
Australia. It has been identified that the GM construct found was Bayer
Cropscience's "Topas" which is the same as found in Victoria.

"Buyers need confidence in the product they are buying and we commend CBH
and the State government for instigating these pre-sale tests," said Mrs

"Markets are routinely asking for GM status on consignments and often
test to verify the claims that there is no GM present."

The NCF claim that preliminary samples detected only one GM seed in
10,000 and these tests have been forwarded overseas for further analysis.
It is possible that the preliminary tests done could produce a false
positive result and testing needs to be verified by more advanced methods
not available in Australia. Final results may not be available for a
further two to three weeks.

"With such low levels found in isolated samples, we have every confidence
that this contamination can be recalled. If contamination is confirmed,
the next step is to find the source of the contamination, eliminate it
and send the bill to whoever caused it.

"The inability for common law to address liability for economic loss
caused by GM contamination is a very real threat. Governments must
introduce a strict liability legislation to be sure the polluter pays,
not the polluted."

- END -

Contact: Julie Newman 08 98711562 or 08 98711644

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  GE Contamination Scandal Spreads
SOURCE: Greenpeace Australia, Press Release
DATE:   8 Aug 2005

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GE Contamination Scandal Spreads

The revelation that the West Australian Government has found Bayer's
rogue GE canola in WA must spur immediate national action to protect
Australia's GE free status, Greenpeace said today.

The discovery in Victoria of genetic contamination in a container of
canola destined for Japan in June, raised concerns that the source of the
contamination was imported seeds from the US. It now appears likely that
Bayer's GE canola "Topas" is contaminating at least 4 states.

"This positive test supports the theory that a seed company imported
contaminated seeds, bred them and sold them to farmers believing they
were GE free," said Greenpeace campaigner Jeremy Tager.

"This is the most serious genetic contamination event that Australia has
ever faced," said Tager, "and the response from State Governments in the
coming days will determine their commitment to upholding Australia's GE
free status."

"The WA and Victorian Governments have instituted rigorous testing. They
are taking this issue extremely seriously but the lack of any response
from the NSW and South Australian Governments is disturbing," said Tager.

Neither New South Wales nor South Australia have undertaken any testing
to determine if Topas is in paddocks or silos in those states.

"It is extraordinary that in New South Wales, the Minister hasn't even
bothered to convene a meeting of his Advisory Council," Tager said.

"States that have not conducted testing, or taken steps to determine if
Topas is a problem in their agricultural areas, are putting Australian
farmers and our GE free status at risk," Tager said. "It is only by
testing that the States can determine the extent of the problem and plan
for recall of the Bayer's Topas canola."

It is critical that all States release information to the public, to
ensure that public confidence in the States' GE canola bans, and market
confidence in our GE free status remain.

The contamination scandal also highlights the need for strict liability -
holding the biotech companies responsible for any harm or contamination
that their GE product causes. Under current law, Bayer is unlikely to
have any legal responsibility for the contamination caused by their Topas
GE canola.

"Now is the time to remove the genetic contamination. If states wait
until harvest, farmers are at risk of having deliveries rejected and
markets closed to them."

Campaigner Jeremy Tager 07 3892 7538 0438 679 263
Communications Carolin Wenzel 02 9263 0358 0417 668 957

Greenpeace has identified a number of steps that need to be taken to
protect our GE free reputation:

1. All states with potential contamination must determine the amount of
Topas and or other identified GE canola lines in their state. States must
develop a coordinated response to ensure that all genetic contamination
is removed and that no further Topas or other contamination will occur.

2. All states must agree that genetic contamination is not acceptable in
trace amounts as this will remove GE free status and leave us with costly

3. It is critical that all canola growing states participate in the
identification and removal of the GE Topas canola and or other identified
GE canola lines. SA and NSW have not been active in this regard. Not sure
of TAS.

4. Amendments to State legislation are urgently needed to require the
screening and testing of all seed prior to sale in Australia that may
have incorporated material from imported seed from at risk countries.

5. Strict liability must be imposed by State Governments so the biotech
companies and seed companies are liable for harm or contamination caused
_ not the taxpayer.

6. States must insist that the Federal Government and AQIS through
Biosecurity Australia, institute proper screening and testing procedures
so that undeclared GE seeds don't enter the country again.

7. States must create a compensation fund for farmers, ensuring that
farmers can cover costs of testing, losses or crop removal, if those
become necessary. Such a fund to be paid by a levy on the sale of GE
products from technology providers to users.

 8. States must initiate action to recover the cost of the latest Topaz
and other GE canola lines contamination event. Costs to be sought to
cover testing, recall and compensation to farmers and supply chain
participants, loss of premium prices for product.

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  More GM contamination found
SOURCE: AAP, by Tim Clarke /, both Australia,10117,16194680-2,00.html
DATE:   8 Aug 2005

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More GM contamination found

ENVIRONMENTALISTS say Australia is facing "the most serious genetic
contamination event" in its history after the West Australian Government
confirmed low levels of genetically modified (GM) canola had been found
in non-GM canola. Tests had shown positive results of GM material but
samples had been sent overseas for further testing and no further details
could be released until more detailed results were confirmed, a
spokeswoman for the WA Department of Agriculture said today.

The latest test results come after GM material was found during routine
testing by the Australian Barley Board in June of an export consignment
of Victorian canola seeds bound for Japan.

About 0.01 per cent of the consignment contained the GM material.

The modification found in Victoria, known as Topas 19/2 and developed by
Bayer CropScience, is believed to have been found in the WA sample tested.

Following today's announcement, Greenpeace Australia campaigner Jeremy
Tager said state governments must now take immediate action to protect
Australia's GM-free status.

"This is the most serious genetic contamination event that Australia has
ever faced and the response from state governments in the coming days
will determine their commitment to upholding Australia's (GM) free
status," Mr Tager said.

"The WA and Victorian governments have instituted rigorous testing.

"They are taking this issue extremely seriously but the lack of any
response from the New South Wales and South Australian governments is

"States that have not conducted testing, or taken steps to determine if
Topas is a problem in their agricultural areas, are putting Australian
farmers and our (GM) free status at risk."

WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said he would like to see legislation
put in place at a national level to govern liability for GM contamination.

Although he believed WA's GM-free status was not under threat, he was
keeping a close watch on the situation.

There could be a number of reasons for the positive test result, Mr
Chance said.

"It's certainly a matter for concern, but it is an interim test, and the
nature of those interim tests is that false positives are possible," he
said on ABC radio.

"So really until we get the final information from that trial, which
won't be until early-September, it's really speculative to say that we
actually have that problem.

"I know that the Network of Concerned Farmers have argued very strongly
for strict liability laws of that kind, and I think it's something that
we need to be thinking about very seriously."

Julie Newman, from the Network of Concerned Farmers, said the
contamination, if it was confirmed, must be isolated and removed because
GM-free status was too valuable to lose.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
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