GENET archive


2-Plants: On GE contamination of Australian canola

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  "Get Bayers GM pollution out of my crop" insists devastated non-GM
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
DATE:   5 Oct 2005

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"Get Bayers GM pollution out of my crop" insists devastated non-GM farmer

Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) spokesperson, Geoffrey Carracher is
devastated to find his seed testing results confirmed a GM contamination
level of 0.5% in the "Grace" variety of seed he planted his canola crop
with. Mr Carracher is insisting on compensation for any costs or market
loss he experiences from the offending GM patent owner, Bayer Cropscience.

"I've done everything possible to protect my GM-free status but now I am
faced with the nightmare of trying to find someone to harvest a $50,000
crop that I know is contaminated with Bayers GM product, that markets are
rejecting, that can't be segregated and is against the law to sell."

"Non-GM farmers will not accept any GM contamination if we are to be
liable for it. It's no point just accepting a contamination level because
it does not comply with law or market demand and is too expensive to test
for or segregate. GM contamination must be prevented."

The Network of Concerned Farmers is not against someone having the choice
to grow GM crops, but are against someone else's choice impacting
negatively on other farmers' incomes and livelihoods.

"Contamination is playing right into the hands of the GM companies who
are desperate for farmers to lose our GM-free status. If our government
does not prosecute these companies for causing economic loss to others,
they will have a free rein to destroy our markets."

"I'm a non-GM farmer and I don't want to carry the liability. The
polluter should pay, not the polluted and our government must support a
strict liability legislation."

Earlier this year, Mr Carracher was so concerned about the market
rejection to GM crops, he wrote to Bayer Cropscience to test his crop and
verify a GM-free status, but they refused. When purchasing his seed, he
asked his seed company to guarantee that his seed was not contaminated,
but they refused. Mr Carracher organised a delegation of farmers to
deliver seed samples to Bayer Cropscience headquarters in Melbourne, but
Bayer Cropscience refused to cooperate. He finally accepted a generous
offer by Greenpeace to pay for the expensive testing of the seed he sent
to the accredited AgriQuality laboratory in Melbourne. The test result
confirmed contamination at 0.5%. Mr Carracher equated to a risk of up to
487,500 GM plants in his 60ha crop (300,000 canola seeds/kg sown at 5kg/ha).

"I now know I am contaminated and when delivering my crop, I will be
asked to sign a guarantee that I am GM-free which indemnifies Graincorp
from litigation. Now I can't sign that declaration because I will be
liable for all the losses caused along the whole supply chain."

"I legally can't sell my canola as non-GM but will I be able to sell it
as GM? How will I keep my crop from contaminating my neighbours crops?
Will my contractors harvest my canola if it is known to be contaminated?
If I can't harvest it, can't deliver it and can't graze it, I may have to
burn it, but who will compensate me the $50,000 it is worth?"

Mr Carracher had purchased a Grace variety of canola seed, marketed by
Dovuro and developed by the Grains Research Development Council and
Agriculture Victoria. The seed was purchased at Naracoorte, South
Australia, raising the possibility of GM contamination of seed in South
Australia also.

"I call on the Victorian Government to test my paddock for verification
and help determine the extent of contamination across the state. They
must take the urgent steps necessary to manage the risks as harvest will
start next month," said Mr Carracher.

"Australia's rural industry is worth over $12billion / year and this is
nothing short of industrial sabotage."


Geoffrey Carracher 03 53866261
(If unavailable: Julie Newman 0427 711644 or 08 9871156)

Geoffrey Carracher holding a bag of Grace seed in his canola paddock
"Bayer remove your genes" banner on the fence of Geoffrey Carrachers
contaminated paddock
Geoffrey Carracher in the paddock of GM contaminated canola

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

TITLE:  First Australian farmer falls prey to GE contamination
SOURCE: Greenpeace Australia
DATE:   6 Oct 2005

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First Australian farmer falls prey to GE contamination

Melbourne, Victoria - The first confirmed case of genetically engineered
(GE) contamination in a field of commercial canola has struck a Victorian
farmer. The incident opens up a legal mine-field for farmers and
threatens Australian export markets.

Geoffrey Carracher, a Canola farmer from Wimmera, accepted a Greenpeace
offer to test his canola seeds at an independent lab. The seeds were
found to be contaminated with Bayer's Liberty Link gene at a level of
0.5%. This is 50 times higher than the original GE contamination found in

Alarmingly, the 'Grace' seeds he purchased were also sold to farmers
across three states: NSW, Victoria and South Australia, creating serious
legal and financial problems for them.

"I am devastated. My 64 hectare crop worth $48,000 is now at risk. Any
farmers who sowed Grace canola face the same risk and need to get their
crop tested," said Mr Carracher.

Greenpeace has begun testing canola seeds for GE contamination because
State Governments, seed companies and the biotech industry have failed to
take decisive action to stop the spread of GE.

"Testing seed samples from farmers should have been done months ago, by
industry and government," said Greenpeace GE campaigner Jeremy Tager.
"Laboratory analysis takes 3-5 days. Contaminated canola varieties could
have been identified within a matter of a few weeks, and a plan developed
for protecting farmers and our food shortly after that."

"The GE industry insists that we must all accept this sort of
contamination, when it is a direct result of their incompetence and lack
of care. They want to convince us that we can 'be a little bit pregnant',
in reality any level of contamination threatens Australia's GE free
status," said Tager.

Greenpeace opposes the release of genetically engineered plants into the
environment because it will create a new form of biological pollution
that is extremely difficult to control and whose impacts are virtually

Mr Carracher, who is dedicated to being and remaining a GE-free farmer,
wants the company that owns the GE product to be held accountable.

"I want Bayer to take responsibility - they own the patent and they get
the profit, so it's only fair that they should be liable for what happens
to farmers like me."

Greenpeace proposes an action plan that would address the current crisis.
It includes: comprehensive testing of seed stocks; a farmer protection
fund to cover farmers' costs, and strict liability for GE products, so
that holders of the patent are held responsible for harm and
contamination caused by their product.

Communications Officer:
Carolin Wenzel (02) 9263 0358 0417 668 957
Jeremy Tager (07) 3892 7538 0438 679 263
Geoffrey Carracher:
Wimmera, Victoria (03) 5386 6261 0428 316 901
Images of Geoffrey Carracher in his contaminated canola field:
User: photos Password: green

GE contamination global register
Laboratory test results show 0.5% GE contamination in Grace seeds sown in

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

TITLE:  Liability for GE canola needed
SOURCE: Wodonga Border Mail, Australia, letter by Gill Rosier
DATE:   6 Oct 2005

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Liability for GE canola needed

GENETICALLY-engineered canola contamination is now rife. It is imperative
the Victorian Premier introduce liability and order statewide GE testing
and clean-up of all canola silos, deliveries and trials. At least 35
conventional canola farmers in Victoria, NSW, SA and WA have discovered
they are inadvertently growing Monsantos Roundup Ready canola. Both this
and the Bayers Topas 19/2 contamination have been traced back to
Victoria. The Monsanto contaminated seed was bred by the Victorian
Primary Industries Department in partnership with Cargill, from
contaminated imported North American canola seed. Nine non-GE trials in
NSW have been destroyed some had 20 per cent GE contamination by the
Roundup Ready variety. The Victorian Government has undertaken some GE
testing but the contamination results are yet to be publicly released.
Without liability the GE industry will win a trifecta. Consumers wont be
able to source GE free foods; farmers wont be able to farm GE free; and
the GE companies can demand royalties for their GE pollution. Impossible?
In Brazil, Monsanto is demanding that soybean farmers with|2 per cent
contamination by their GE soybeans, must pay royalties! In Australia,
Monsanto has negotiated to get end point royalties at silos and
shipments. Does this mean positive GE testing, which can easily be done
to 0.5 per cent, will allow Monsanto to extract a payment on unwanted GE


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