10 reasons why farmers are concerned about GM crops
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10 reasons for concern re GM crops
27 March 2004
Network of Concerned Farmers
10 main concerns
The Network of Concerned Farmers concerns about GM crops are based on:
*Farmers are being misled*
Although farmers are being promised the world with this technology, the evidence of performance to date for Australian GM canola has been below average. There are non-GM biotechnology alternatives using GM in the lab to fast track selection of desired traits in non-GM that gives the advantages without the risks in future plant breeding.
*Lack of restrictions to the GM industry impacting negatively on others* The GM industry has been allowed to self-regulate their integration into the cropping system. They have taken full advantage of this situation which will result in the agricultural industry not having the choice to avoid the impact of this crop on their business'.
Contamination of GM crops into non-GM crops is considered uncontrollable. If GM crops are introduced, the non-GM farmers are expected to keep contamination out of their crop rather than the GM farmer keep it contained. When unsuccesful, farmers are at risk of being sued under the Trade Practises Act for delivering a contaminated product, or under Patent Law for growing a patented crop. Contrary to what has been promised, coexistence is impossible when many markets are demanding guarantees of no contamination (rather than the 1% tolerance claimed).
*Costs and Liabilities*
In order to market on the preferred non-GM market, the costs and liabilities are prohibitive. Costs are estimated at 10% of product value or conservatively $35/tonne to maintain an unacceptable 1% contamination. Liability could extend to millions of dollars and may be uninsurable. If it is not viable to market as non-GM, we are faced with a serious economic problem when Australia can only market a portion of our produce on the GM market
Australia has a clean green image which we need to preserve. Many of our export markets, and much of the domestic market does not want to buy GM crops or GM contaminated crops and as growers we have both a right and a responsibility to continue to grow and market products consumers are demanding. As it is too difficult and too expensive to segregate these crops, conventional farmers are expected to market on the GM market, yet markets are rejecting the product. Organic farmers will not have the choice and will be unable to maintain organic status.
The existing legislation does not adequately address concerns and economics is not considered by legislation as reason for rejection of GM crops on a Federal basis. Decisions regarding industry preparedness and coexistence plans are dominated by the GM industry themselves and plans are unacceptable and will not enable coexistence to be possible.
The unique major patent rights that accompany GM crops will undermine the independence and the rights of farmers and will create increased dependency on a small number of agribusiness corporations. In Australia there is a concern that end-point royalties will be used to collect patent royalties as there is no indication as to what level of contamination triggers royalty deduction from our payments.
Many of the GM crops that are been developed and that have been commercialised have been genetically modified to be herbicide resistant. These crops will undoubtedly lead to problems of herbicide resistance and to on-farm management problems, particularly with the gene-stacking properties of GM crops. In the case of glyphosate tolerance, we risk losing the effectiveness of our most commonly used herbicide and as yet, there is no replacement available.
We are concerned that there has not been adequate testing of the environmental impact of GM crops and that due to the crossing of the species boundary (and crossing genes between kingdoms), GM crops pose risks that are not clearly understood and the product is not recallable. The increased use of more toxic chemicals (such as 2-4D and Paraquat) to control unwanted glyphosate resistant volunteers is both of health and environmental concern.
As farmers we are concerned about growing safe, healthy food for our customers. There is still some concern about the safety of GM foods and this is leading consumers to be cautious about eating them. Although considered to be the world's leader, our regulatory system does little to address health concerns when neither the OGTR or FSANZ does their own health testing. They mostly rely on the GM industry themselves to do health testing and the longest animal health test appears to be 28 days. Consumers don't want to be guinea pigs and we need to grow food that our customers are confident in and that we know is safe. It is irrational to be in a rush to permanently contaminate the world's food supply with a product that has had reports of adverse health findings when there is no recall strategy.