GENET archive


2-Plants: Australian canola destroyed over contamination

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Canola destroyed over contamination
SOURCE: Herald Sun, Australia, by Tamara McLean
DATE:   15 Sep 2005

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Canola destroyed over contamination

MILLIONS of canola seedlings have been destroyed after one variety in a
New South Wales crop trial was found to be genetically modified, a farmer
at one test site said today.

The revelation came as the NSW Government extended the ban on the
cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops until March 2008.

The moratorium, which had been due to expire next March, was extended so
that more evidence about marketing and trade aspects of such crops could
be gathered.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald today said nine NSW trials
of canola varieties had been destroyed due to suspected GM contamination.

The crops, which were supposed to be non-GM varieties, were being grown
as part of a national variety trial supervised by the NSW Department of
Primary Industries (DPI) on behalf of the Victorian government.

John Miller, the president of Manildra Field Station, in central-western
NSW, where one trial had been planted, said all 60 plots of the four-inch
high seedlings had been ploughed up.

"I believe one particular variety was contaminated in all nine trials
across the state but they wiped out the lot out of caution," Mr Miller said.

"Only affected plants were pulled up in Victoria but the NSW DPI decided
to wipe out the NSW trials to try to limit contamination."

But he said it was "deeply concerning" that the incident had occurred in
the middle of a moratorium.

"What worries me is that, regardless of whether GM is good or bad, the
contamination has happened and there's a ban on," Mr Miller said.

"We're not allowed to grow any, and that's just been extended, so it is

He said the incident raised questions about how often such contaminations

"You have to ask how did it happen, has it happened before ... and how
much contamination has occurred throughout the space?" Mr Miller said.

"They'll have to be extra careful now and check the plots every fortnight
to make sure none of these plants keep growing."

A spokeswoman for Mr Macdonald said the NSW Government had responded
appropriately to the problem.

"On suspecting there might be an unintended presence of GM material in
the plots, NSW acted quickly and decisively," the spokeswoman said.

"The NSW DPI immediately destroyed the plots that contained or were
suspected of containing GM canola."

She said Mr Macdonald had requested crown solicitor's advice on any
potential breaches of legislation, and what remedies may be available.

"He has also referred the issue to (the) state's gene technology advisory
committee," she said.

"We have yet to receive either piece of advice, but will consider it
carefully when it is available."

The NSW Government would continue to collaborate with other state
governments and industry to manage the issue of unintended presence of GM
food crops, the spokeswoman said.


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