2.State government tests confirm GM contamination
---1.Europe, Japan GM canola threat
The Australian, December 27 2010
EUROPEAN and Japanese grain buyers have threatened to cancel Australian contracts over fears of contaminated canola.
Importers have warned Australia's grain industry they will reject genetically modified grains.
The CBH Group, a major Australian grain co-operative controlled by 4800 growers, yesterday declared that natural canola farmers had a major advantage in international markets, attracting a 5 per cent price premium over GM canola.
CBH had to begin testing all grains for GM contamination this year after Western Australia lifted its moratorium on GM crops, allowing GM canola to survive sprayings of the Monsanto herbicide Round-Up.
CBH's marketing manager for lupins, oats and canola, Peter Elliott, said yesterday 90 per cent of this year's traditionally grown canola crop had been sold to Europe, which has banned GM foods. "When you're growing GM, at the moment you need to compete against Canada, but when you've got non-GM you get a free kick into Europe and some markets in Japan," he said.
"There's a massive advantage to be growing non-GM this year, because Europe has been so aggressively buying up all the non-GM tonnage."
Mr Elliott said he was concerned about the case of WA farmer Steve Marsh, who was stripped of his organic status last week after his farm was allegedly contaminated with GM canola seeds, blown from a neighbouring farm.
Mr Elliott said GM canola now made up 6 per cent of the crops in WA and 20 per cent in Victoria and NSW, but the strain was still banned in South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania.
The Australian can reveal that four European and Japanese importers threatened to cancel contracts after the WA government approved GM canola in January.
The European importers -- AgroTrace in Switzerland, Eurograin in Germany and Holtermann in Norway -- warned WA Premier Colin Barnett in February they would reconsider sourcing canola from the state in order to meet strict European laws on GM labelling and contamination thresholds.
"European consumers remain resolutely opposed to genetically modified crops, and as European importers we must remain responsive to the needs of our customers," the importers wrote in a letter obtained by The Australian yesterday.
---2.State government tests confirm GM contamination
ABC, 27 December 2010
Western Australia's organic farming community is rallying behind a grower whose property has been contaminated by genetically modified crops.
Stephen Marsh has received confirmation that about 70 per cent of his Kojonup farm, in south west WA, was contaminated by GM canola.
He says he is not sure whether he'll be able to regain status as an organic grower and is considering legal action.
The state president of the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Kim Hack, says Mr Marsh has the support of farmers across the state.
"We are extremely pleased and proud of him. He's taken a stand, he's put his livelihood, his reputation, on the line for the organic industry," he said.
"We're going to back him all the way and he's being backed up by conventional farmers as well."
Julie Newman from the Network of Concerned Farmers says this case highlights that GM farmers could face legal action if neighbouring properties are contaminated.
Ms Newman says the State Government has failed to listen to calls for a risk management strategy.
"The GM farmer should be worried because they are ultimately liable and this is an avenue where the non-GM farmer can say right we'll follow this example and we'll do the same and it could be a class action if you're not sure who causes it," she said.
The Agriculture Minister Terry Redman says the government is working with Mr Marsh to try to regain his organic status.
He says while he is confident the incident is a one-off, the department will look at measures to prevent a repeat.
Mr Redman says there are no plans to reinstate a ban on the growing of GM canola.