Hail storm unleashes more genetically modified canola contamination - highlights need for farmer protection legislation

Hon Lynn MacLaren MLC, the Greens spokesperson on GMOs, called for legislation to protect farmers from unwanted GM contamination, following a hail storm last week near Cunderdin which resulted in around 100 tonnes of GM canola being knocked to the ground in a GM canola field. This then washed downhill - contaminating the roadside verge and a neighbouring non-GM property.

Ian James, whose non-GM farm has been contaminated, said “GM canola is already starting to germinate in my paddock and along the roadside and drains. What I want to know is who is going to pay to clean up this mess, and stop the GM canola spreading over my whole farm?”

“In order to sell my canola to CBH I have to sign declarations saying it is GM-free. How can I do that with any confidence now? The Government should never have introduced GM canola without legislation in place to protect non-GM farmers from economic loss,” said Mr James.

Hon Lynn MacLaren said “this is just the latest in a string of contamination incidents that have occurred since GM canola was introduced in WA and shows that GM canola contamination can’t be controlled.”

“In question time yesterday the Minister answered that responsibility for the clean-up rested with the farmers who ‘need to liaise with each other to work out the best way to manage any GM canola that may have moved’.”

“Ninety-five per cent of WA’s canola went to Europe last year – a market with no tolerance for GM canola. Minister Redman is risking our markets and our farmers’ livelihoods by introducing GM canola with no safeguards in place,” added Ms MacLaren.

“Farmer protection legislation is urgently needed to protect non-GM farmers from economic losses if GM contamination does occur,” concluded Ms MacLaren.