Evidence to emerge from Canada has indicated that Australian States planning to proceed with genetically modified (GM) crops could pay a heavy price.
Canadian National Farmers Union vice president Terry Boehm and Canadian Organic Growers president Arnold Taylor met with Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance in Perth this week to warn Western Australian farmers about the risks of GM canola.
Mr Boehm said farmers risked losing export markets once GM was introduced because segregating GM and non-GM crops was impossible.
“Segregation has not worked in Canada, so no-one could assume that it will work in Australia, particularly with prevailing winds and wildlife,” Mr Boehm said.
Mr Chance said the Canadian experience emphasised the importance of WA maintaining its moratorium on the commercial production of GM crops to protect the interests of consumers and the State’s export markets.
Mr Taylor has been involved in a legal battle with Monsanto on GE canola contamination since 2001 and warns organic farmers in WA they could face the same situation if the State lifted its moratorium.
New South Wales and Victoria have decided to allow GM canola to be grown this year.
Mr Chance said it was clear contamination was posing problems in Canada, and Victoria and New South Wales should examine the evidence closely and reconsider their decision.
The Minister said there was a lack of independent information about the performance of GM canola in Australian growing conditions and all governments should take a very cautious approach to the technology.
South Australia last week joined WA and Tasmania in maintaining a moratorium on the commercial production of GM crops.
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