The majority of farmers are against the introduction of genetically modified (GM) technology in WA so why was the ban to grow GM canola lifted?

State Minister for Agriculture Terry Redman lifted the ban on growing GM canola in February to allow it to be commercially grown this year.

The Copeland family have been farming at Mukinbudin for nearly a century and said they were disappointed by the decision. “Throughout WA, 27,000 people signed a petition to keep WA GM-free, as opposed to 300 farmers who signed an agreement with Monsanto to grow it,” Anne-Marie Copeland said. “None of our neighbours will be growing it; because they have all signed the petition to say they are against it.… there are lots of farmers – including some of the biggest farmers in this area – that are against it”.

Already more than 20 shires have declared themselves GM-free including six out of eight of Mr. Redman’s electorate. “How can Mr. Redman honestly say that he is representing his electorate if he imposes a policy directly opposed to what his voters want?” asks Mick Murray MLA, Shadow Minister for Agriculture. Mr. Redman appears not to listen as he trots out the same old answers which fail to address the voters concerns. He says that:

  • Farmers should be free to choose to incorporate GM canola into their farming systems.
  • The technology has been approved by federal health and safety regulators.
  • The trials proved GM and non-GM canola can be segregated and marketed separately.
  • It could provide another tool to help farmers remain profitable and competitive.

So far, an estimated 200 tonnes of GM seed has been ordered for planting 30,000 ha this season.

Whereas farmers have legitimate economical concerns about their GM-free crops:

  • Being contaminated by seed from GM crops.
  • That the market isn’t there for GM food.
  • In America last year, the biggest expanding sector of the market was GMO-free, so consumers are definitely not interested in eating it.
  • Many people were concerned about the health effects of GM crops which had never been independently tested.
  • Non-GM farmers will be landed with the cost of everything, including having to prove that their seed is GM-free and if their crop is contaminated they are liable for all costs.

Naturopathic health advisor Debbie Taylor said “I cannot see how that law (to allow GM crops) was passed … it is completely and utterly unacceptable. Where is the freedom of democratic rights that people have to say that we do not want this in our foods? It’s non-democratic.

Last month a number of farmers attended a rally on the steps of Parliament House on calling for the government to reverse its decision about allowing GM canola to be grown commercially. They called for Mr. Redman to resign or to be sacked for allowing GM crops to be grown. Mr. Murray said the City of Albany, on the border of Mr. Redman’s electorate, also voted to request a five-year moratorium on the planting of GM crops within its boundaries. “How long will it take for Mr. Redman to get the message?”

Unfortunately Mr. Redman has the message and it’s not the one from his electorate that he is listening to, it is the one from the corporate sector. It shows a blatant disregard for the majority of the electorate of whom he is their representative.

Source: Gene Ethics http://www.merredinmercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/farmers-disagree-over-modified-canola- benefits/1780116.aspx?storypage=0