Farmers' anti-GM message

28 Nov, 2014 01:00 AM
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WA farmers have formed a GM-Free Farmers group, to provide a united voice opposing to GM food production, which was announced on the steps of Parliament House, Perth, last week.
WA farmers have formed a GM-Free Farmers group, to provide a united voice opposing to GM food production, which was announced on the steps of Parliament House, Perth, last week.

ANTI-genetically modified (GM) cropping farmers have joined to form the GM-Free Farmers group, a united voice opposed to GM food production.

The group announced their formation at a small rally on the steps of Parliament House last week.

Goomalling farmer Darrell Boase said the group was formed in response to the news of a repeal of the GM Free Crop Areas Act (2003).

"It has been an idea for several years, but the recent threat of a repeal finally got us into gear," Mr Boase said.

"We held a phone link-up with 15 like-minded farmers in September to see if there was any interest in forming a new group, dedicated to the promotion of non-GM farming, which resulted in a unanimous 'yes'.

"As a result we were able to launch our group."

Williams farmer and long-time supporter of anti-GM farming Janette Liddelow was named spokesperson and wants the voices and concerns of anti-GM farmers to be heard and addressed.

About 20 anti-GM farmers and city protestors gathered to oppose the possible repeal of the GM-free laws, being considered by Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston.

The group and consumer advocate Foodwatch also gathered more than 1500 signatures on a petition.

Labor MP for Gosnells Chris Tallentire, Greens MP Lynn MacLaren and Nationals MP Paul Brown were given petitions to table in the Parliament, asking to protect GM-Free farming and food.

Mr Brown, who represents the agricultural region, said he did not support the anti-GM position, but would provide a voice for the region and tabled some of the petitions.

"I support those farmers in the region, who are entitled to a voice," he said.

Kojonup farmer Steve Marsh, well known for a landmark case against his GM canola growing neighbour, attended the rally and thanked the crowd for supporting a "traditional farmer".

"The impacts of GM are significant and we face substantial losses," Mr Marsh said.

"It is disappointing to see the government perusing this repeal, as there are a lot of farmers who don't want this technology imposed on them.

"It is not just another mob of grain, as we are so often told.

"The government needs to do something about it, and the only way to rectify the situation is through legislation."

Mr Tallentire said 874 petitions had been tabled and there would likely be more to come.

"The Act was brought in to protect us from the uncontrolled use of GM crops," he said.

"We are going to be opposing the repeal of the legislation, because there is no evidence to suggest there is no long-term feeding trials into the safety of GM foods.

"There is no evidence that the market, the buyer or the consumer wants to eat that product."

But the Pastoralists and Graziers' Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers chairman John Snooke believes opposition to GM crops hasn't disappeared locally but the level of support has certainly diminished.

In early 2010 when then Agriculture Minister Terry Reman signed an exemption to the GM Crops Free Areas Act, about 150 protesters rallied on the steps of Parliament House to vent their anger demanding the decision be reversed.

But Mr Snooke said a meagre attendance at another anti-GM rally last week at the same venue fell well-short of that support.

He believes mainstream, commercial media has lost interest in the anti-GM cause as facts about the technology have been proven to a wider audience, especially after the decision was handed down earlier this year in the Marsh v Baxter WA Supreme Court case.

"GM canola has slowly been seen as a good tool for farmers," he said.

"The supply chain has segregated it and there's no marketing disadvantage.

"Farmers who want to market their crop as non-GM have every right to reinvigorate themselves and come together and do what they do; that's the free speech we have in this country and I support that.

"But what I don't support is their ignorance of the facts.

"Still to this day none of those anti-GM people will read the verdict from the Marsh-Baxter case and get an understanding of the facts.

"Clearly they have missed the law and been found out and they've been discredited and that's why the interest isn't there.

"When you spruik millions of dollars worth of damage like Steve Marsh did in the early days of that case and you wind up in the Supreme Court and it's just an $85,000 case, not too many journalists are going to keep taking an interest."

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READER COMMENTS

wtf
28/11/2014 5:01:48 AM, on The Land

"facts about the technology have been proven" now who is jumping to conclusions Mr Snooke. Please explain why since the mid 90s rates of asthma, brain tumours, bowel cancer, testic cancer, acute lymphotic leukaemia, diabetes, etc are skyrocketing? coincidentally roundup ready crops went commercial at the same time. We are what we eat, allowing the chemical companies to prove their products are unsafe is wrong. Trials for 90 days on rats predisposed to tumour development in no way represents a human study. Talk to an oncologist off the record Mr Snooke and u will be surprised?
Mug
28/11/2014 5:53:54 AM, on Stock Journal

Now let's see if we DO live in a democracy! What is needed on BOTH sides is an Australian "Fair go". It must be remembered that SOME GM products are harmless. The ones that are currently in the test tube are a potential killer as it depends on just WHAT gene is being used. It is Federal Govt. lunacy that there is not an INDEPENDENT testing authority . An old saying-----" The fox is minding the chickens". Utterly irresponsible and reckless. Also divisive / time wasting /and fodder for the legal profession. If you have a market for GM products keep it under control----no escapes.
x
28/11/2014 6:16:01 AM, on Farm Weekly

Roundup Ready does not equal GM. Ag will have to embrace GM technology if it can deliver frost, salt, disease, drought tolerance etc (as long as there is integrity in the science), otherwise Australian farmers will be at a significant competitive disadvantage. The simple fact is that grain is a commodity product and sustainable price premiums for non GM product are very unlikely long term. We all know how the flat earth mentality has played out in history!
agri lover
28/11/2014 7:05:16 AM, on Farm Weekly

They have formed a #cryingwolf organisation. Truth is always revealed and we tire of hearing scaremongering based on lies and an ideology far removed from reality. It's like them calling Princess Diana ugly when reality showed otherwise. GM technology is beautiful in its skill and performance. Yet people die from organic food every year, it destroys the soil (can't control weeds without cultivation on an organic cropping farm) and they call that ideal. Really? Organic farming is ugly and is why I refuse to eat organic food whenever I have a choice.
GM Julie
28/11/2014 7:26:09 AM, on Farm Weekly

WTF - you talk about correlation not causation. Using your correlational argument we could also attribute the increase in diagnosis of ADHD, divorce rate and skyrocketing sovereign debt to GM technology. Perhaps the forever increasing life expectancy of humans is a result of GM as well?
James
28/11/2014 9:01:00 AM, on Farm Weekly

Mug, there is an independent regulator called OGTR, it is a national body. This is simply a duplication of process, nothing that isn't approved by OGTR can be grown in Australia. Removing the GM-Ban law in Western Australia, simply means that it becomes more difficult for a party such as Labor/Greens to re-ban already widely adopted GM technologies such as GM canola.
Mug
28/11/2014 9:20:02 AM, on Stock Journal

Thanks James. We have the opportunity to learn something new every day. However I am nervous about big business having so much free rein on gene science. In reality, nothing really spectacular like frost, drought ,salt, flood resistance has been forthcoming----yet. But it may well be. It needs watching very closely. GM development cost is a barrier. Hence the huge sales push to get something happening and the temptation to cut corners and save time =$'s .
Mug
28/11/2014 9:20:18 AM, on Stock Journal

Thanks James. We have the opportunity to learn something new every day. However I am nervous about big business having so much free rein on gene science. In reality, nothing really spectacular like frost, drought ,salt, flood resistance has been forthcoming----yet. But it may well be. It needs watching very closely. GM development cost is a barrier. Hence the huge sales push to get something happening and the temptation to cut corners and save time =$'s .
wtf
28/11/2014 10:39:35 AM, on The Land

Julie I have found several studies identifying roundup as being an endocrine disruptor. The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, sleep and mood among other things. Disruption to it is evidenced by diabetes, thyroid cancer, tumors etc. Can u see the link between the disorders I mentioned and the endocrine system? Divorce and ADHD could be linked to bad sleep or mood, so I try to keep an open mind and consider that all could be linked, I thought that is what good science is.
wtf
28/11/2014 10:59:51 AM, on The Land

James, does the OGTR do trials for human safety of residues (eg roundup) in isolation or does it investigate synergies with other chemistries in our diet (eg preservatives)? or does it just evaluate the information or conduct the research? Are they only tested for major physical changes, or do they study neurological impacts and their effects on learning and behaviour? I feel the answers I and others have been given by the FSANZ are inadequate, I would welcome an organisation who can start to address my queries?
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