WAFarmers probes GM litigation

31 Jul, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE WA Farmers Federation is looking at ways of protecting farmers from legal action taken by multi-national companies against farmers over GMO crop technology theft claims.

WAFarmers stepped up its inquiry into the implications of adopting GM crops, after Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser sent shockwaves through rural WA last month, when he outlined his David and Goliath battle with Monsanto to WA growers.

Monsanto claimed that Mr Schmeiser used its GM technology without payment.

WAFarmers grain section president Peter Wahlsten said the news prompted the grain section's action, but the accuracy of Mr Schmeiser's story also raised many questions, which would be investigated.

"We don't want WA grain growers to be stitched up by the multinationals," Mr Wahlsten said.

Since GM crop trials begun in WA five years ago, farmers have been on a steep learning curve.

On one side of the issue there were concerns about market and consumer acceptance and food safety, but a major bone of contention now thrown into the limelight was fear of multinationals, their operational format and domination.

"We will be doing more work into litigation, insurance and the protection side of the story," Mr Wahlsten said.

"If the consumers and markets accept GMOs and growers embrace the technology, our job then is to make sure multinationals don't take over."

Despite the advantages of GMOs, there is an abundance of information which throws a lot of doubt on the issue.

Mr Wahlsten said WAFarmers would continue to research into farmer concerns and issues until it was satisfied a firm decision could be made about the correct way ahead.

Inquiry is to be in line with the Gene Technology Grains Committee, which is chaired by Mr Wahlsten.

WAFarmers general council has agreed the grain section's motions are to be pursued.

Mr Wahlsten said a GMO policy would also be reviewed annually and updated if necessary.

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