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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: Monsanto keeps its distance from legal action on Western Australian GM contamination



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   MONSANTO KEEPS ITS DISTANCE FROM LEGAL ACTION ON GM CONTAMINATION

SOURCE:  Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia (ABC)

AUTHOR:  Skye Shannon

URL:     http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201102/s3140307.htm

DATE:    16.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Biotechnology giant Monsanto says it won?t financially support any legal action in the case of GM contamination of an organic farm in Western Australia. [...] Keryn McLean, from Monsanto,says the company won?t be offering any legal support to the neighbour, nor will it be pursuing the organic farmer."

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MONSANTO KEEPS ITS DISTANCE FROM LEGAL ACTION ON GM CONTAMINATION

Biotechnology giant Monsanto says it won?t financially support any legal action in the case of GM contamination of an organic farm in Western Australia.

In December, Kojonup organic farmer Steve Marsh lost accreditation for more than 300 hectares of his farm, after tests confirmed that canola plants found on his property were genetically modified.

Mr Marsh is now taking legal action against his neighbour for future loss of income.

Keryn McLean, from Monsanto,says the company won?t be offering any legal support to the neighbour, nor will it be pursuing the organic farmer.

?I think we?ve said this before, but we have no intention of taking legal action against farmers who have unintended presence of GM canola,? he said.

?So with Steve Marsh?s case, there is no reason why we would ever consider taking legal action against him.?



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   WHEATBELT STORMS REVIVE MURRAY?S GM DEBATE

SOURCE:  Farm Weekly, Australia

AUTHOR:  Bobbie Hinkley

URL:     http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/general/wheatbelt-storms-revive-murrays-gm-debate/2071679.aspx

DATE:    12.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Shadow Agriculture Minister Mick Murray [...] questioned when the Barnett Government would test conventional farms for GM canola contamination following the recent spate of stormy weather throughout WA. Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman [said] ?It is highly unlikely that movement of small amounts of GM seed remaining in paddocks from the 2010 harvest would lead to non-GM canola crops exceeding the accidental presence level.?"

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WHEATBELT STORMS REVIVE MURRAY?S GM DEBATE

THE storm that has brewed over GM canola contamination has again been dragged into the spotlight by Shadow Agriculture Minister Mick Murray.

And it is the recent storms that hit the Wheatbelt that has sparked the latest contribution to the debate by Mr Murray.

He has questioned when the Barnett Government would test conventional farms for GM canola contamination following the recent spate of stormy weather throughout WA.

Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman, however, has hit back hard, labelling Mr Murray?s comments as uninformed and repetitious.

Mr Murray said there were about 72,000 hectares of GM canola grown in the Wheatbelt last year and severe wind experienced during the last fortnight would leave millions of hectares on non-GM crop land at risk of contamination.

After citing remnant seed in GM canola stubbles as the main cause, he said a large number of non-GM farmers would be ?terrified? that their cropping paddocks for the upcoming season would be contaminated by GM material after it had blown onto their properties during the storms.

Mr Murray was accused by many of ?scare-mongering? after he said that even properties not immediately on the boundary of GM paddocks might be affected.

?Even if these properties are not neighbouring GM canola farms, the 150 kilometre per hour winds could have caused GM seeds to be blown to farms much further away,? Mr Murray said.

?Mr Redman must tell these farmers when their properties will be tested for GM crop contamination and who will do the testing.?

Mr Murray said that GM farmers could face expensive legal action if their crops had contaminated non-GM canola farms.

?Mr Redman has wiped his hands of any responsibility for contamination,? Mr Murray said.

?We are now starting to see the true effects of Redman?s curse - contaminated crops, organic decertification and neighbour fighting neighbour.

?He has created a mess and he?s leaving WA farmers to pick up the pieces.?

Mr Murray?s comments have been met with some disappointment by Mr Redman

?Labor?s uninformed, lowest-common-denominator commentary on GM is not only getting repetitiously dull but it highlights the party?s complete lack of knowledge or care about anything agricultural,? Mr Redman said.

?I?m not aware of a single agricultural policy finalised, formulated or even flagged by the Opposition - they just clumsily deride everything while offering no valid alternative.?

Mr Redman said the Australian grains industry had already adopted the accidental presence level for GM canola in non-GM canola.

?It was Mr Murray?s colleagues in the previous Labor Government that endorsed this level, yet he is either confused about the level or being intentionally misleading,? he said.

?It is highly unlikely that movement of small amounts of GM seed remaining in paddocks from the 2010 harvest would lead to non-GM canola crops exceeding the accidental presence level.?

Mr Redman also hit back at claims that restaurants and fast food outlets would be forced to declare any foods which contained Genetically Modified (GM) ingredients in a recommendation made by a national review of food labelling.

Mr Murray made the comment in response to the Independent Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy which recommended all food and ingredients that had been genetically modified be labelled, including food sold at chain food service outlets and in vending machines.

Mr Murray said clear labelling would give consumers the right to choose between GM and non-GM products.

?Consumers will welcome the recommendation to have restaurants, food chains and vending machines declare on menus or food displays if food has been genetically modified,? he said.

?The Barnett Government made the decision to introduce GM canola crops, against massive community outcry and now Mr Redman must give consumers choice at the checkout by supporting the recommendations of the food labelling review.?

He also said that Mr Redman should support moves to give consumers choice.

He noted that consumers should have the choice between GM and non-GM food off the supermarket shelf but didn?t want to allow the same choice to growers who may or may not choose to plant GM canola in the future.

?Mr Redman has been incredibly arrogant about his GM crop trial, only looking after the interests of GM crop farmers,? Mr Murray said.

?It is time the Minister started thinking about the entire agriculture industry for which he is responsible, not just those farmers who support his ill-considered GM crop experiment.?

Mr Murray made a submission to the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy calling for an easily distinguishing label or logo to indicate GM-derived foods, no matter how small the percentage of the overall component.

He also called for meat and poultry that were fed GM grains, seeds and fodder to be labelled, as well as cooking oils.

Mr Redman said that Mr Murray should be aware that the Federal Government?s present Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) standard already required that GM foods and ingredients, including food additives and processing aids from GM sources, must be identified on labels with the words ?genetically modified? if novel DNA and/or protein from an approved GM variety is present in the final food.

?I continue to support choice for consumers through labelling requirements such as this,? Mr Redman said.

?The fact is industry overwhelmingly wanted GM to help combat droughts and frosts and make them more internationally competitive.

?GM canola has been grown around the world for 14 years and is simply another crop variety that is proven to co-exist with other farming systems.

?However it sounds as though Mr Murray wants to rob WA farmers of choice and dictate how they should farm their properties.

?My perspective is neighbours and industry can work together so everyone has the right to implement a farming system of their choice, whether that?s GM, conventional or organic.?