Farmers head to court over GM seed

From The Land

Farmers who don’t grow genetically modified (GM) canola will be forced to sue those who do, over economic losses in a move that could divide communities, a farmers’ group says.

Farmers are outraged the Western Australia government has decided to allow GM canola crops to be planted before a report on the technology had been handed to the state government.

Up to 1,000 hectares of GM canola will be planted in the 2009 growing season, as a result of the decision.

WA is the third state to allow GM crop technology to go ahead – the NSW and Victorian state governments changed their policies earlier this year

“It’s a blatant disregard for the process that was promised,” spokeswoman for the Network of Concerned Farmers Julie Newman said.

Ms Newman is part of an industry reference group that was finalising the report, expected to be released by the end of this year.

The report is expected to detail concerns that GM doesn’t stack up to the high praise it has received overseas, both “agronomically and economically”.

As a result of the controversial decision, farmers who dion’t support the practice won’t be able to segregate from the GM sector and legally wouldn’t be able to defend themselves, she said.

“Non-GM farmers will be very hard pushed to sell the product as non-GM.

“If you have a look at the canola now, that’s coming out with a non-GM label on it, (that’s) because they are forcing non-GM canola.

“You won’t be able to get that, once it’s released in every state.”

The report is also expected to show that risk management doesn’t exist, that legal defence would be inadequate and there would be no protection for farmers and no choice for consumers, Ms Newman said.

“By ignoring risk management, it means farmers of non-GM crops have to sue the farmers growing GM for any economic loss that they cause.

“And that causes major rifts within the community.”

Ms Newman said the group would be seeking further answers from the WA government over its decision.

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