ANTI-GM campaigners say they are bitterly disappointed that Agriculture Minister Terry Redman failed to meet key opponents of GM crops during his recent tour of the United States and Canada.
But Mr Redman has retorted he did speak with non-GM croppers and they were much more relaxed about their GM crops than their WA counterparts.
Acting Shadow Agriculture Minister Ken Travers said that in a statement released before his tour, Mr Redman said he would be meeting farmers and marketers of both GM and non-GM canola in Saskatchewan. “He has broken that promise.”
North Greenbushes woman Tracy Lansdell of the GM Free Consumers Network said that the decision was disappointing.
“At the most critical time in securing a GM free future for WA, I am so disappointed with the outcome of this so-called ‘fact finding’ visit,” she said.
“Mr Redman has let us down once again by being completely blinkered in his approach to the GM decision. Wining and dining with multinational companies is not fact finding.”
Mr Travers said Shadow Agriculture Minister Mick Murray had received complaints from Canadian anti-GM crop farmers who were denied meetings with the minister during his recent visit.
“At least two written invitations were extended to the minister by the National Farmers Union to meet in person when he visited Saskatchewan but he could only agree to a phone conversation,” he said. “This does not constitute balanced fact finding a promise made by Mr Redman.
“It is extraordinary for the minister to spend thousands of dollars on an overseas visit and not hear all sides of the story.”
Mr Travers said it appeared the minister had focused on meeting industry heavyweights instead of farmer’s organisations.
“Mr Redman claimed he was going on a fact finding mission, but he seems to have met only with organisations who share his support for the GM crop trials,” he said.
“He was offered a meeting with the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate and a farmer who was sued by Monsanto but he knocked it back.
“It is inexcusable that he can make decisions that affect farmers, neighbouring properties, organic farmers, trade relations and consumers without listening to all the evidence.”
Mr Travers said the minister had haphazardly entered into the trials without considering the long-term effects on the industry.
“Mr Redman has gone ahead against the wishes of a majority of the State’s farming community, food industry and a growing list of local governments,” he said.
“The only view Mr Redman is interested in is his own.
“He has ignored a disallowance motion that passed in Parliament, he has ignored his own constituents, he has ignored the numerous protests on the front steps of Parliament House and now he has ignored the cries of anti-GM crop farmers in the US.”
Mr Redman was not contactable yesterday. But he said earlier, in an interview with the ABC, that “once again, the Opposition are peddling misinformation as I certainly did speak with non-GM farmers on my trip to the US and Canada.
“I also went out of my way to set up a suitable time for a phone call with the head of the National Farmers Union in Canada. I phoned three times but he failed to answer.
“The non-GM farmers I spoke to on my trip were very open about their different reasons for growing non-GM crops. One thought he could get a premium for non-GM in a niche market and others were not keen to pay royalties to big companies. But none were concerned about others growing GM crops, it was a personal choice for them.”