all items via Network of Concerned Farmers - our edit:

1.Don't come, media banned and shut up Julie!
2.GM trial funding coming from non-GM farmers?
3.A Meeting of the Minds - an AgBiotech Forum

1.Don't come, media banned and shut up Julie!

From Julie Newman of The Network of Concerned Farmers: At last, Biotechnology Australia is being responsible in getting both sides of the GM debate together to discuss practical farming issues to be resolved. Craig Cormick has structured an excellent forum that will be invaluable in looking at the way forward. Unfortunately this forum is running under a different format...

The audience is by invitation only (around 100 invitations were sent) but some pro-GM supporters (eg. Mr Ginns, the CEO of Grains Council of Australia) are encouraging people not to attend. At the last Annual Grains Conference in Brisbane, the audience of thousands were asked for questions to pro-GM speakers. When I stood to respond, Mr Ginns stated "Not you Julie, anybody in this room except Julie Newman can ask a question." Why is Mr Ginns so afraid to allow farm leaders to listen to the real farming issues associated with GM crops?

The media have been banned despite protests and requests to attend. Why is this critical debate hidden behind closed doors?

The Network of Concerned Farmers and other parties will be available for comment after the forum.

[forum details, item 3 below]

2.GM trial funding claims denied, despite evidence

GM WATCH comment: This looks very complicated but the bottom line seems to be that highly controversial GM wheat trials are being funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), which gets money from compulsory levies on Australian farmers. There seem to be attempts to say that GRDCs money for the trials is coming from the federal government but "you can never be too sure" says one of the organisers. "Some of the overheads" for the trials, he admits, are not coming from the government. If these costs are coming from compulsory levies on farmers, this will be a red rag to a bull for Aaustralia's farmers, given the problems already being experienced with contamination of canola and the massive potential for export losses from contamination of wheat.

GM trial claims denied
by James Bowen
Farm Weekly. July 7th 2005

Grower-funded plant breeding advocate the Council of Grain Grower Organisations (COGGO) has denied it is funding WA's first genetically-modified (GM) salt-tolerant wheat trial at Corrigin. The claim was made by Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) spokesperson Julie Newman in a presentation she is circulating to attract support for a strict liability regime should contamination of non-GM crops by GM crops occur.

Ms Newman said companies such as Grain Biotech Australia (GBA), which is running the trials, must be held accountable for their recklessness and farmers should re-evaluate their investment in the company via COGGO.

"It does not matter how good the performance of a GM wheat crop is if it destroys the existing $4billion/yr wheat industry" Ms Newman said. COGGO is funded by about 2000 growers who contribute 0.5pc of the net farmgate value of their grain towards plant breeding and related research and development chosen by the council.

COGGO and the Export Grains Centre (EGC) are the major shareholders in GBA, and EGC is a partnership between COGGO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) which is funded by compulsory grower levies.

Ms Newman said the directors list at EGC reads like a who's who of GM advocates. COGGO chief executive Geoff Smith denied COGGO was funding the GM wheat trials.

"We are an owner of GBA, but GBA's GM work is completely funded by the Federal Government," Mr Smith said.

"It is a totally separate business and I can categorically say that we have not contributed financially towards the GM trials."

Mr Smith said COGGO did not put any money into GM trials and all the work it directed money into was conventional plant breeding. He said all of GBA's plant breeding up until the present had been conventional.

COGGO did not have an official opinion on GM.

"But, along with the rest of the industry, we feel that advancements in technology will be a necessary step to go forward with plant breeding," Mr Smith said.

COGGO surveyed its members on issues such as GM technology, but the results were for company purposes only.

Mr Smith would not say how much money COGGO's shareholding in GBA amounted to.

GBA general manager Paul Fox said the company's GM trials were funded by GRDC, but he could not comfortably say that it was 100pc federal money.

"If you talk in terms of corporate infrastructure, you can never be too sure," Mr Fox said.

"Some of the overheads will obviously be carried by the company."

He said COGGO was not directly involved in the trials.

Every crop variety GBA had released until now had been conventional and its GM work had previously been confined to hydroponic trials at State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre laboratories.

The salt-tolerant wheat was sown this season and Mr Fox said there had been good rains in the area and the crop had come out of the ground.

"But it's early days yet in terms of saying how it is performing," he said.

"In a month or so we may see some visual indications of how it is doing but we'll have to wait until the end of the season to get some hard data."

The wheat is grown in a range of salt concentrations.

3.A Meeting of the Minds an AgBiotech Forum
22 July 2005
The Ian Wark Theatre, Shine Dome, Gordon Street, Canberra ACT 2601

9.15 - 9.30am Registration
Moderator: Prue Adams. ABC Landline
9.30 - 9.45am Welcome and purpose Craig Cormick, Biotechnology Australia
9.45 10.00am Update on biotechnology research in Australia Dr Julie Glover, Bureau of Rural Sciences
10.00 10.55am Panel 1 - Unintended presence
Speaker 1. Kerry Emslie, National Measurement Institute
Speaker 2. Brett Drysdale, Australian Grain Harvesters Association
Speaker 3. Chris Melham, Australian Seed Federation
10.55 11.10am Morning coffee
11.10 12.05pm Panel 2 - Segregation and identity preservation
Speaker 1. Max Foster, ABARE
Speaker 2. Jan Viljoen, CSIRO
Speaker 3. Juliet McFarlane, Network of Concerned Farmers
12.05 1.00pm Panel 3 Pollen drift
Speaker 1. Chris Preston, CRC for Australian Weed Management
Speaker 2. Phil Salisbury, Australian Oilseed Federation
Speaker 3. Scott Kinnear, Biological Farmers of Australia
1.00 1.45pm Lunch
1.45 2.40pm Panel 4 - Liability
Speaker 1. Dr Matthew Rimmer, Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture, Australian National University
Speaker 2. Robert Burrell, Faculty of Law, University of Qld
Speaker 3. Julie Newman, Network of Concerned Farmers
2.40 3.35pm Panel 5 - Market Access
Speaker 1. Peter England, consultant
Speaker 2. Geoffrey Annison, Australian Wheat Board
Speaker 3. Peter Portman, Co-operative Bulk Handling
3.35 3.50 pm Afternoon tea
3.50 4.30pm Mapping and gap analysis; summary of day's findings.