Uproar as GM contaminates beehives
1.New source of genetic pollution found - Greenpeace
2.Uproar as GM canola 'contaminates' beehive - The Age
3.Honey at risk of GM contamination - ABC
4.GM canola growing by the road - ABC
1.New source of genetic pollution found
Greenpeace Australia, 1 October 2009
This morning, Greenpeace set up a mobile Biohazard Research Centre at a GE canola field near Geelong, southern Victoria. What did we find? Commercial beehives contaminated with genetically engineered (GE) canola pollen.
Honey samples were collected from hives just metres away from a GE canola field and were found to contain Monsanto's Roundup Ready canola pollen. This means people buying honey from this hive will be eating GE food without knowing it, and before it's been properly assessed as safe to eat. The GE canola farmer is not obliged to inform his neighbours about what he is growing, so the beekeeper has been kept as much in the dark as everyone else.
This follows the recent discovery of GE canola growing along roadside verges near Berrigan, New South Wales and Horsham, Victoria. ª Read more http://www.truefood.org.au/newsandevents/?news=69
South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia still have crop bans in place.
Why is Greenpeace doing this?
From the research centre, Greenpeace will monitor wind speed and pollen flow onsite to determine how far pollen from the GE canola crop is likely to spread.
Greenpeace is taking action to draw attention to GE canola being approcved for release in Australia under the Howard Government, without proper studies into the impacts on human health or the environment. Roundup Ready canola has been shown to have adverse effects on livers in Monsanto's own rat-feeding studies. It's also been banned in Europe.(1)
As federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon needs to step in and ensure indpendent proof that GE crops and foods are safe "beyond reasonable doubt". This is what the ALP promised at the 2007 federal election.
We also need biodiversity studies to examine the impact these new crops and farming techniques have on surrounding plants, insects and animals.
Farmers, chefs and community join visit the centre
Local farmers and community members joined Greenpeace at the research station to protest the spread of GE canola. Organic farmer Evan hardy says, "I'm concerned that the introduction of GE crops will remove choice for all farmers. GE contamination will lead to the increasing domination of agriculture by large chemical companies and an increased reliance on toxic herbicides."
Melbourne restauranteur, Dure Dara, has come to the centre to express her concerns. "We need our governments to be more responsible and to think about genetically engineered food in a much more considered way. Food protection is an issue that affects tourism, our global image and the health of our citizens."
Ms Dara co-manages the Nudel Bar and Residential restaurants, and is one of close to 200 leading chefs and restauranteurs who have signed the GM-free Chefs' Charter (http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/issues/GE/our-work/gm-chefs-charter).
Use this online form (http://www.truefood.org.au/takeaction/?action=POLITICIAN) to ask Nicola Roxon to ensure that:
*GE crops are only approved if they are proven to be safe 'beyond reasonable doubt'; and
*All GE foods are clearly labelled.
(1) Eating in the Dark: How Australia's food regulator is failing us on genetically engineered food, p 22.
2.Uproar as GM canola 'contaminates' beehive
The Age, October 2 2009
GENETICALLY modified canola has jumped containment lines and "contaminated" a commercial beehive in western Victoria, prompting claims that people are not being told enough about what they eat.
Scientific testing on behalf of Greenpeace Australia found Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" canola strain, which is resistant to some herbicides, had contaminated hives near Bannockburn owned by Edmonds Honey.
Victoria lifted a moratorium on growing GM canola in November 2007 after being advised it could be kept separate from non-GM crops.
Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Sales said the contamination meant people were being denied choice: anyone buying honey from the affected hive could be eating GM food without knowing it.
She said it showed GM canola was "uncontrollable". "We're calling on the Federal Government to keep its election promise ”” basically not to release GM canola into the environment unless it was produced safe 'beyond reasonable doubt'. We don't believe it stands up to that test," Ms Sales said.
The health effects of GM canola remains contentious, though it is regarded as safe for consumption by the Commonwealth Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and the Australian Academy of Science.
Local farmers and Melbourne restaurateur Dure Dara joined a protest against the spread of GM material into neighbouring crops. The beekeeper affected by the contamination, John Edmonds, was less worried. He was concerned it could affect sales and said labelling should be improved. But he said beekeepers had been using GM cotton for years without negative health impacts.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Government said the health risks of GM canola had been extensively investigated and found not to differ from non-GM canola. GM labelling standards were being reviewed, with a report due mid-next year.
The State Government said the potential impact of GM canola on bee-keepers was considered in a review before the state moratorium was lifted.
Mr Edmonds said he would report the campaigners to police for removing and testing his honey frames.
3.Honey at risk of GE contamination
ABC, October 4 2009
Greenpeace says tests on honey from some commercial beehives in Victoria show people could be eating genetically engineered (GE) products without knowing it.
The organisation took samples from hives near Geelong, west of Melbourne, after discovering GE canola growing by the side of the road at Horsham.
Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Sales says beekeepers and non-GE farmers are falling victim to GE canola.
"Because GE farmers aren't required to notify their neighbours when they're growing a GE crop, beekeepers have got no way of knowing if their bees are feeding on GE pollen and nectar," she said.
"They've got no legal recourse if their crops or their products are contaminated with GE material.
"So despite the fact that less than 3 per cent of the canola that's being grown this year is being genetically engineered, it poses a very real threat to non-GE farmers who want to maintain a GE-free supply chain."
4.GM canola growing by the road
ABC, September 25 2009
SHANE MCLEOD: A group of concerned famers in country New South Wales claims to have found genetically modified canola plants growing on the side of the road, just metres from their non-GM fields.
The farmers who want to remain GM free are worried their international reputation is being ruined because the GM canola seeds could easily blow into their crops.
The company that produces most GM canola in Australia denies it's a breach of bio-security and says the chance of the plants infiltrating the farms is low.
Di Bain reports.
DI BAIN: In southern New South Wales there's two types of canola growers, GM and non-GM.
It's been more than 18 months since the genetically modified crops were allowed to be cultivated in New South Wales and tensions about contamination are mounting.
Thousands of tonnes of GM canola is being transported throughout southern farming country.
Gai Marshall whose farm is based in the Berrigan Shire says she's tested canola plants growing along a 20-kilomtere stretch of the Riverina Highway and found they were nearly all genetically modified plants.
GAI MARSHALL: The reason I was, I did test them was only just out of more than anything, just a spur of the moment.
I was testing canola crops around in the vicinity of our farming properties and I had the test kits with me and decided as I drove out to one of the properties, driving down the Riverina Highway in the Berrigan Shire, that I'd just stop and test some of these large plants growing on the side of the road to be three foot high.
And of the 20 test kits I did 19 of them were GM and one was non-GM.
DI BAIN: Gai Marshall is part of a group which call themselves concerned farmers. They've decided to grow non-GM canola.
Another farmer Juliet McFarlane is concerned her canola crops will be contaminated by the GM canola seed. She says losing her non-GM reputation would be a big economic issue.
JULIET MCFARLANE: They may certainly face possible loss of markets because no one's actually done any market research in the last four or five years. They're just guessing that we won't lose markets. They don't know that.
We would be liable for any false declaration even if it's made unknowingly. It leaves farmers in a very vulnerable position. There's absolutely no insurance to cover you.
So yeah, it's an economic issue.
DI BAIN: There's now about 41,000 hectares of GM canola grown across New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. It makes up about 2 to 3 per cent of Australia's total canola production.
Most of the modified seed is Monsanto's Roundup Ready canola. Company spokesman Tony May says the growers' concerns are overstated.
TONY MAY: We have been made aware of that but we're not surprised. You know it really was taken into account when the regulators allow the technology to be grown.
DI BAIN: If it's found on the side of the road, what's stopping it from blowing into the middle of a paddock?
TONY MAY: It tends to remain quite localised. And you know as part of the introduction of the technology there was a lot of studies went into investigating the weediness of canola. And they found that, Roundup Ready canola, and they found that it was no more weedy or invasive than conventional canola. It's unlikely that it's going to continue to re-establish itself and become, you know, a weediness issue.
DI BAIN: So it's unlikely but it's still possible.
TONY MAY: Oh I guess the regulators assessed the risk as low so you know, it really is unlikely.
DI BAIN: He says protocols are in place to ensure grain is handled with care and much of it is likely to be ultimately blended with non-GM seed by grain handlers.
The Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald agrees with Monsanto. He says under European Union standards farmers are allowed to have a small percentage of GM grain in their crop.
IAN MACDONALD: I think there's a lot of exaggeration here. I don't believe that it's springing up everywhere on a volunteer basis. And remember even if it does occur on a volunteer basis, the studies show that it doesn't persist and can be easily treated.
However you mu- the protocol that's in place allows for, for import into Europe for instance, up to 900 kilos of GM seed within seed that is designated non-GM. So that's 900 kilos out of 100 tonnes. So the protocols are in place that cover the potential for adventitious behaviour and a few seeds mixing in.
DI BAIN: Mr Macdonald says he hasn't seen the tests that Gai Marshall has conducted but any complaints would be addressed by department representatives.
SHANE MCLEOD: Di Bain reporting.