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GMO-FREE REGIONS & PRODUCTS: Farmers outraged at Victoriancontamination plan



                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Farmers outraged at Victorian contamination plan
SOURCE: Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
AUTHOR: Press Release
URL:    http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2837
DATE:   14.05.2007
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............................................................ ...............
"The beneficiaries of GM crops are the patent holders, the GM companies,
the seed industry, the research sector and the governments who are
encouraging corporate investment into research and development and
planning to cash in on the technology patents they currently own,"
explained Mrs Newman. "If politicians want Australian farmers to follow
in the footsteps of US and Canadian farmers who have faced additional
costs, intimidating contracts and plummeting market acceptance of GM
food crops, they should also be prepared to match the massive subsidies
given to growers of GM food crops."
............................................................ ...............


Farmers outraged at Victorian contamination plan

The Network of Concerned Farmers was outraged today at news that the
Victorian State Government plans to lift the moratorium on genetically
modified crops. The key issue of concern for the NCF is the unfair costs
and liabilities that will be imposed on non-GM farmers due to the
problems associated with segregating GM from non-GM crops in order to
supply markets that are GM sensitive.

"This is a deliberate attempt to contaminate Victoria's GM-free status
and the Victorian Government has failed farmers by refusing to protect
farmers from unfair costs and liabilities. Farmers and consumers will be
denied choice as it is expected that non-GM farmers will be forced to
market as GM," said Mrs Julie Newman, National Spokesperson for the
Network of Concerned Farmers.

The NCF have lobbied to introduce liability legislation to ensure the GM
industry is liable for any consequences from the introduction of GM
products, however it appears that the Victorian Government is satisfied
that coexistence plans put the burden of segregation on to the non-GM grower.

"If the beneficiaries were liable for the adverse consequences, they
would not be in such a hurry to force GM and the associated bulldust on
such a reluctant population." said Mrs Newman.

The NCF claim that GM technology is a failure as, despite many promises,
the only commercial crops grown in the world have the same basic traits
released over a decade ago and those benefits can be easily achieved by
non-GM means. Statistically, 68% of the total global commercial GM crops
are herbicide tolerant (the crop is resistant to a particular
herbicide), 19% are Bt (the plant produces the Bt insecticide to control
budworm and bollworm in corn and cotton) and 13% contain both traits.
There are many claims boasting of environmental benefits however the NCF
explain that most of the Australian canola crop is grown with non-GM
chemical resistant traits and therefore there will be no change in
methodology.

"Farmers are only being offerered a different herbicide tolerant trait
in canola and this will not offer any alternative benefit except a weed
control that is more expensive and less effective on weeds such as
radish. The grower will also face more expensive seed, binding
contracts, demanding management plans and market rejection. If GM canola
was superior to non-GM canola, the GM companies would not have refused
to participate in independent performance trials."

"To have politicians that should know better, claiming that Australian
farmers are missing out on traits like drought or salt tolerance and
high yields is deliberately misleading and we need to ask why."

"The beneficiaries of GM crops are the patent holders, the GM companies,
the seed industry, the research sector and the governments who are
encouraging corporate investment into research and development and
planning to cash in on the technology patents they currently own,"
explained Mrs Newman.

"If politicians want Australian farmers to follow in the footsteps of US
and Canadian farmers who have faced additional costs, intimidating
contracts and plummeting market acceptance of GM food crops, they should
also be prepared to match the massive subsidies given to growers of GM
food crops."

"GM is a scam and shame on the Victorian government for promoting it."

Contact:
Julie Newman, Newdegate, WA Phone 08 98711562
Geoffrey Carracher, Minimay Victoria 03 53866261


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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Sustainable agriculture in a changing climate
        Genetically modified (GM) foods
SOURCE: Conservation Council of West Australia
AUTHOR: 
URL:    http://conservationwa.asn.au/content/view/69/125/#GMO
DATE:   May 2007
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Sustainable agriculture in a changing climate - Genetically modified
(GM) foods

Is genetically modified food really the solution for the future in a
changing climate? Pro-GM groups and those wanting the state moratorium
lifted claim that the introduction of GM crops such GM canola would make
Australia more competitive in the world market.

The stability of GM crops in the environment is questionable and there
are serious health and safety concerns. Consumers are also concerned
about labelling issues, and the resulting lack of choice for 'natural'
food products. Similarly there are segregation, legislation and
liability issues for those farmers whose crops may get contaminated with GM.


Health concerns & labelling issues

Consumers have the right to choose the quality of their food, and there
is increasing demand for more natural food. Consumers are also
increasingly distrusting of regulatory agencies that appear to promote
their own industry over the interest of the public.

There are concerns about the impacts that GM foods may have on human
health. CSIRO researchers abandoned a long-term experiment involving GM
peas at the end of 2005. The peas were genetically modified to contain a
bean gene that produces an inhibitor of the alpha-amylase enzyme. This
made them resistant to beetle infestation as beetle larvae were unable
to digest pea starch. However mice fed on GM peas developed lung
inflammation and the 10-year experiment was subsequently abandoned for
safety reasons.

If GM canola is commercially produced in Australia, there is a
possibility that honey bee colonies would be placed on these crops for
pollination purposes. Pollen from canola would be the most likely source
of transgenic DNA into bee products and also present in the widely
consumed product, honey.

Current food standards in Australia permit an ingredient to contain up
to 1% (10g/kg) of unintended presence of GM material in food without
requiring labelling (Food Standard Australia and New Zealand, FSANZ).
But this does not include food from animals fed on GM feed, or in highly
refined food such as cooking oil made from GM canola or cotton. This
raises the issue of better labelling for food regulators to minimise
consumers' confusion and increasing demand for more 'natural' or
'healthier' options.


Cross pollination and super-weeds concerns

Canola pollen can remain viable for up to a week and can occur between
fields up viable distances of 1.5 to 2.5 kilometres from source field.
Gene flow between fields is also a matter of pollen competition,
flowering synchrony and relative density. Therefore it is possible that
gene flow from GM canola to relatives will be more favourable when the
relative is the less common species.

The gene flow between GM canola and its Brassica relatives seems
inevitable. Canola (Brassica napus) has the potential to hybridise with
many of its relatives i.e. many cabbage varieties and some mustard (e.g.
Sinapis arvensis) and wild raddish species creating hybrids that are
sterile. It has been reported that hybridisation between B. napus and B.
rapa averaged 7% and 13.6% in field experiments and commercial fields
respectively. Crops such as B. rapa also have some weed-like
characteristics, so hybridisation and adoption of transgenic traits may
increase their potential to become weedier and more invasive. Gene flow
can also occur via the shattering of seed pods and dispersal of seeds
during harvesting or transportation, and has been found on roadsides and
verges through transportation.

There is also evidence of potential gene flow between canola and
sugarbeet, sunflower and rice. As such, growers of conventional and
organic produce have concerns that their crops will be contaminated and
as a result organic growers may lose their organic certification through
no fault of their own. Legislation and liability issues for such growers
must also be addressed.


Export issues

At present, Australia is the main exporter of non-GM canola to the world
market. The value of Australian food exports to the European Union (EU)
was $1.85billion in 2001-02. The EU has the most stringent and wide
ranging regulations on GM food in the world, and in the past the
European buyers have preferred Australian canola because of its GM-free
status. Premium prices have been paid for GM free canola of $50 - $100
per tonne.

There is also concern that the presence of GM canola in Australian wheat
would pose market access problems or raise the cost of wheat blending
operations. Pharmaceutical companies such as Monsanto control over 90%
of global GM seed cultivation. This raises socio-economic issues in that
livelihoods among Australian farmers and producers can be affected. We
may be dependent on companies like Monsanto for seed to produce food.
Australian farmers would be forced to pay the price asked by the bio-
tech companies.

Links
Network of Concerned Farmers
http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/index.asp
GM trial discontinued
http://www.bio-pro.de/en/life/magazin/01829/index.html

The Conservation Council of WA Inc has joined other concerned groups and
consumers in a public awareness campaign. The aim of the campaign 'Say
NO to GMO' (www.no-gmo.asn.au) is to petition the WA government for a 10-
year extension to the GM moratorium beyond 2008.
<http://www.no-gmo.asn.au/images/Petition_website.pdf>



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                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Genetically modified organisms
SOURCE: Organic Growers Association of Western Australia
AUTHOR: Press Release
URL:    http://www.ogawa.org.au/
DATE:   02.03.2007
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Genetically modified organisms

The Organic Growers Association of Western Australia (OGAWA), the peak
body representing Western Australia's producers and consumers of organic
food is calling for restraint following the back flip by the WAFF today.

GMO technology is disallowed under organic certification and the organic
industry as a whole has always adopted a cautious response to GM
products. Events overseas have highlighted the need for care where
herbicide resistance has actually increased over time with GM crops and
many of the widely published advantages of GM have been disputed. Claims
that human and environmental health is unaffected also remain unproven.

'Our main concerns with GM technology relate to three specific areas
which have not been dealt with in the statement by WAFF,' says Annie
Kavanagh, President of OGAWA.

'Firstly, the contamination issues which noted the report indicated are
inevitable. There are no clear guidelines on who would be responsible
for the monitoring of contamination - basically for us if GM is found in
organic food and crops, it looses its organic certification and so
organic farmers lose their livelihood. Keeping GM product separate from
organic or non-GM will be very difficult and costly and could easily get
into the non-GM food chain unnoticed without controls.'

'We have major concerns over the liability issues surrounding GM crops.
There are enough law suits in place, particularly in North America,
which should make all farmers seriously worried about potential legal
action against them if their crops become inadvertently contaminated by
GM seed drift,' added Annie.

'At present the liability rests with everyone else not the GM companies
who cannot be sued themselves for allowing their GM product to
contaminate organic product or for that matter non GM products. In North
America non-GM farmers are the ones carrying the cost of ensuring their
crops remain GM free. The OGAWA believes at the very least that those
using GM should be held responsible for the costs arising from detection
and contamination problems'.


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