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Monsanto fire sale on GM canola

1.Monsanto fire sale on GM Roundup Ready canola seed
2.Growers clash over GM canola

EXTRACT: "Contamination will happen but markets don't want it," said Ms Newman, who has farming interests in Newdegate. "It was not designed to co-exist." (item 2)
1.Monsanto Fire Sale on GM Roundup Ready canola seed
Gene Ethics, April 23 2012

Farmers and shoppers reject Monsanto's herbicide tolerant genetically manipulated (GM) canola so emphatically that the company now gives away GM canola seed in a desperate bid for farmers to grow it. In NSW [New South Wales] the company promises to limit direct farmer losses to only $10/tonne and in WA it offers a one for three freebie to sweeten its deal. 

"Global crop seed and agrichemical giant Monsanto is scrambling to find a market for its genetically manipulated (GM) seed that few will grow and no-one wants to eat," says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

"Farmers know the economics of GM canola do not add up.

"Many who tried out the GM crop in previous years have decided to grow other more profitable and productive varieties instead.

"Grain traders have been paying up to $50/tonne premium in response to strong local and overseas demand for GM-free grain and, for instance, Viterra's quote for April 19 is $30 per tonne discount for GM canola at its silos in Melbourne and Adelaide. Values are similar throughout the country.

"In response to farmers reluctance to buy, Monsanto has offered NSW growers a price support that guarantees they will receive a maximum of $10/tonne less for GM, provided they forward sell their crop and deliver the GM canola harvest to Cargill in Newcastle.

"We question whether such a price support scheme that encourages farmers to 'fix the price' is legal under ACCC rules against price fixing," he says.

"A Birchip Cropping Group report has also found that GM canola seed yields no more than top alternative varieties and has similar oil content.

"Birchip's gross margin analysis {reported in the Australian Farm Journal April 2012, Pp 20 & 21} also found that due to GM's sale price discount, GM seed royalties, brand-name chemicals required to be used, and extra transport costs to distant silos, GM canola is over $150 per hectare less profitable than other canola options.

"Most farmers who tried Roundup tolerant GM canola, so they could spray the weed killer more often and at higher doses without harming their plants, will not grow it again because it is a profit gouger.

"Monsanto's WA advertisement does not even disclose that its offer is for free GM seed, describing it as an offer for FREE BAGS of hybrid canola seed.

"This misleading description should also interest the ACCC which seeks to prevent deceptive ads.

"The Terms and Conditions of the one for three offer attached to this email include: 'Free bag only applies to the seed component supplied by Canola Breeders and does not include stewardship fees on the seed as applied by Monsanto. Other applicable fees are the responsibility of and payable by the grower on the free bag/s.' See:

"Like Monsanto promises for the performance of its GM seed, this offer is not what it seems and should be refused by all sensible farmers," Mr Phelps concludes.

Comment: Bob Phelps 0449 769 066 or 03 9347 4500
2.Growers clash over GM canola
Peter Williams
The West Australian, April 25 2012

European demand for canola that is not genetically modified has given WA growers a boost, but raises questions about the drive towards GM crops.

Non-GM canola has been selling for about $600 a tonne, $40 to $50 a tonne more than the GM product, which the European markets generally refuse to buy.

CBH protein and oilseeds marketing manager Peter Elliott said the demand had been created by the need to produce more biofuels in Europe to satisfy new regulations.

He estimated about 70 per cent of canola being sold in Europe was used to produce biofuels.

The fact that much of Canada's canola output was GM meant it could not be sold into Europe.

"So the WA grower and SA grower have quite a good opportunity at the moment where they're sitting on a product that's nicely differentiated," Mr Elliott said.

"They're reaping the benefits of that at the moment through these high prices."

"My preference is to be accumulating non-GM at this stage. That's what the market wants at the moment."

About 7 per cent of the WA canola crop was genetically modified, he said.

Mr Elliott said Asian markets were unlikely to follow the Europe's virtual GM ban, with the biggest customers Japan and Pakistan having no preference.

Pro-GM Cunderdin farmer John Snooke said debate about the price difference was a "media beat-up", because individual growers like him could choose both crops for different markets.

He said GM crops had economic benefits because they were effectively weed proof.

"Price difference is only a small part of profitability. The most profitable system I had last year was the GM system because it yields higher The yield far outweighed the discount.

"We have good markets for GM canola. Our Asian customers buy on price, generally."

Mr Snooke said Canada was producing 12 million to 14 million tonnes of GM canola a year and selling to the same Asian markets.

Mr Elliott said he doubted the improved yield compensated for the price. "GM can confer a certain amount per tonne in terms of economic benefit but I doubt it's $40 or $50 a tonne," he said.

CBH has a system of segregation which it says prevents GM contamination of non-GM canola beyond an agreed level of 0.9 per cent, and ensures the WA product will not lose its status in Europe.

But Network of Concerned Farmers spokeswoman Julie Newman said the State's canola was destined to be compromised by the GM program.

"Contamination will happen but markets don't want it," said Ms Newman, who has farming interests in Newdegate.

"It was not designed to co-exist. It was designed to accept contamination and remove that market differentiation between GM and non-GM.

She accused CBH of spreading the cost burden of segregation onto non-GM growers.

"This price differential is expected to be borne by the non-GM farmer, so we're meant to expect that loss." 

The WA crop: 7 percent of canola in this State is genetically modified