Repeal of GM Crops Free Areas Bill restricts freedom to choose

The Barnett Government has moved to expose all WA agriculture to GM contamination risking the premium non-GM farmers now enjoy, Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren said today.

If the GM Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill passes, farmers in WA will lose the ability to establish clean and green areas for organic and GM-free agriculture.

“The repeal will not only make it more difficult for WA farmers’ to grow contamination-free non-GM crops, it will also have a knock-on effect on ordinary West Australians’ right to choose to feed their families organically grown foods,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“It adds insult to injury that the Government has brought forward Bill for debate during the week that farmer Steve Marsh suffered the final blow in a long fought battle with his neighbour over the contamination of his property and loss of organic certification.

“The news that Mr Marsh will now have to pay in excess of $800,000 in legal costs after a six year long legal battle with his neighbour, whose choice to raise GM crops resulted in contamination of Mr Marsh’s land, is the worst possible result in a case which represented a fight for the right to choose.

“Mr Marsh’s case has unfortunately set a precedent for the potential loss of earnings that could affect many more WA farmers whether or not the repeal Bill is successful.

“The Greens WA have fought tirelessly to keep commercially cultivated GM crops out of Western Australia.

“Rather than remove protections for organic farmers as this Bill does, we believe greater protections for farmers and the environment are urgently needed.

The states of Tasmania and South Australia have retained a GM-free status, and WA had every opportunity to claim the premium this offers. But the shortsightedness of the Barnett Government is about to throw that away.