1.Truck fire spills GM canola in Western Australia
2.Lawyers to provide legal advice and support for GM free growers
1.Truck fire spills GM canola at Williams, WA
Gene Ethics, Media Release: August 10 2011
Several tonnes of genetically manipulated (GM) canola were spilled at Williams WA, last night. A fire split the truck trailer and GM canola seed spilled along the roadway and verges.
"The Albany Highway for several kilometers needs quarantining, cleanup and monitoring for at least the next decade but the highway was reopened at 5am this morning," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.
"No effective cleanup could have been done in the dark and GM canola contamination is now likely over large areas from Perth to Albany.
"GM canola seed will be picked up and spread by other vehicles, to germinate and contaminate the surrounding countryside for up to 16 years according to Gene Technology Regulator reports.
"The Tasmanian government is still monitoring and cleaning up GM contamination at 50 sites where GM canola trials were planted in 1998," says Mr Phelps
"We call on the WA state government and Agriculture Minister Redman to immediately implement emergency spillage procedures including stringent quarantine, cleanup and long-term monitoring," says Williams grain grower Janette Liddelow.
"The GM giant Monsanto owns the GM canola seed, so it must accept responsibility for this contamination and bear the costs of thorough, long-term remediation.
"This GM canola spill is our worst nightmare come true, after only one season of the crop being grown in WA.
"A majority of farmers around Williams backed GM-free farming and our Shire Council asked the state government not to lift the ban on GM canola, but they ignored us.
"A dozen growers who farm 40,000 hectares here in this area asked the state government to remove the exemption from the law that allows GM canola to be grown here but Agriculture Minister Redman refused our request.
"We wanted our district declared a GM-free zone but he refused, on the grounds that it was too costly, time consuming and complicated to administer.
"And again, we also recently asked to be put on the new Sensitive Sites Register that the Agriculture Department established as a sop to widespread grower demands for the protection of non-GM canola production and our premiums of up to $50/tonne being paid for GM-free product.
"We urgently need Farmer Protection laws, paid for by a levy on GM seed sales, that would provide a fund to automatically pay the extra costs and losses that GM canola has brought to our farming communites," Ms Liddelow concludes.
Janette Liddelow – Williams farmer – 08 9885 1138/0439 851 138
Bob Phelps – Gene Ethics Director – 03 9347 4500/0449 769 066
2. Safe Food Foundation retains Slater & Gordon
The Safe Food Foundation, Media Release: 11 August 2011
Lawyers to provide legal advice and support for GM free growers near the site of Tuesdays GM canola spill in WA
Following the truck fire and spill on Tuesday of 15 tonnes of GM canola in the middle of a self declared GM free zone in WA, the Safe Food Foundation has retained Slater & Gordon lawyers to provide legal advice and support to the local GM free grain growers. The Safe Food Foundation will also provide free GM test kits for the local GM free grain growers who want to test their crops this coming harvest.
Scott Kinnear, director of the Safe Food Foundation said today, “This spill highlights the complex network of legal responsibilities that need to be unravelled and understood given the introduction of GM canola into WA, Victoria and NSW. It also highlights that this issue is between GM and GM free and not just organic versus GM as has been portrayed by some commentators.
The 12 grain growers in the local region who have declared themselves GM free and are negotiating contracts with Japan have a right to know who is responsible for the cost of clean up and monitoring, over what time frame the clean up will take place, and who will compensate them for loss and damage should their GM free crops be contaminated and they incurr loss of income or clean up costs on their land.
It is possible that the truck driver, the trucking company, Cooperative Bulk Handling and the Department of Food and Agriculture and other parties may all have some legal liability for the cost of cleanup and monitoring over many years, and for loss and damage should contamination cause loss of GM free status and loss of income.”
While the Safe Food Foundation understands a large vaccuum cleaner was used to clean up some of the canola, it is inevitable given the size of the grain and the quantity involved that GM canola is still on the roadside.
A lot of questions need to be answered publicly by the Government and Cooperative Bulk Handling which the SFF understands was moving the grain. Some key questions are:
1. Which parties are accepting legal responsibility for the GM canola spill?
2. Precisely what distance of roadside is contaminated? It could span many kilometers.
3. Precisely how much canola was lost in the spill? This will be the difference between the GM canola that left the silo minus the GM canola recovered at the site of the fire.
4. Is there any chance of contamination with nearby GM free canola crops given they may flower until October if spring rains are sufficient.
5. What monitoring program, both for this harvest and in the longer term will be put in place, what testing will be involved, who will monitor, who will undertake the clean up work and what herbicides or mechanical measures will be used in cleaning up GM canola that grows along roadsides as a result of this spill?
The Safe Food Foundation believes that Slater & Gordon are best equipped to help ensure that the GM free grain growers along the road side affected by the spill are appropriately protected for this season and into the future.
Slater & Gordon lawyers have also been retained by Steve Marsh, the organic grower who lost his organic certification following alleged GM canola contamination.
For more information:
Scott Kinnear, Director, The Safe Food Foundation