Agriculture Minister Kim Chance today called on GM companies to take greater care and responsibility for their product or face clean up costs in Western Australia, following another contamination incident in WA.
Mr Chance said trace levels of Monsanto’s GM canola had been found in two varieties of non-GM canola grown in National Variety Trials (NVT) in WA, and that similar incidents had been reported in other canola-growing States.
“Fortunately, the low trace level of GM material means there is no immediate threat to access to overseas markets or the environment,” Mr Chance said.
The GM level detected at the trial sites was 0.04 per cent, well below international market standards. The harshest standard in the world was that of the European Union at 0.9 per cent.
“Regretfully, the GM companies appear unable to contain their product within the laboratory or within Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) trial sites and they appear unable or unwilling to respect WA’s moratorium, or those in place in other Australian jurisdictions,” Mr Chance said.
The NVT program is funded and managed by the Grains Research Development Corporation and there are two canola NVT trial sites in WA.
These trial sites are now being treated as GM sites and would be managed in accordance with established and approved protocols.
“Because the trace levels are so low, I am allowing the variety trials to be completed as they will provide valuable information. If these trials presented any danger to our reputation I would not allow them to continue,” Mr Chance said.
All grain harvested from the sites once the trials are completed would be destroyed. The sites would then be monitored and any volunteer canola plants that germinate would be destroyed before they could flower.
“I am confident that these measures will manage the current situation. However, should such incidents recur in the future I will require the contaminated area to be destroyed,” Mr Chance said.
“I shall be raising the issue of GM contamination and the need for strict liability legislation as a matter of urgency at the next meeting of the Primary Industry Ministerial Council.
“I will be seeking urgent advice from the Department of Agriculture on the necessary means to ensure that such events do not recur in WA while our moratorium is in place.
“The Gallop Government is committed to protecting and enhancing Western Australia’s agriculture and unique environment.”
Minister's office: 9213 6700