Julie's crime seems to have been questioning why the Grains Council of Australia seemed to be promoting the interests of the biotech industry rather than that of farmers when it came to the issue of liability - the GCA has been actively opposing the industry having legal liability for the impact of their crops.
Julie asked why and noted, "The GM benefits promoted appear to be little more than a scam but consumer and market rejection is very real and farmers need fair risk management. GCA don't seem to realise that the best of biotechnology is non-GM. Ignorance and arrogance is no excuse for GCA to deny fair risk management."
Now Julie's been threatened she says, "I welcome legal action as it will allow me to give information to support my statements."
GCA seeking legal action on GM slur
10 August 2005
The Grains Council of Australia has decided to seek legal advice in relation to allegations about its policy on agricultural biotechnology raised by the Network of Concerned Farmers in Western Australia.
Network comment: "The GCA biotechnology policy does not state that the burden of liability is to rest with non-GM farmers. I welcome legal action as it will allow me to give information to support my statements." Julie Newman
GCA's Chief Operating Officer, David Ginns, said a statement today by NCF contained serious implications and accusations which needed to be addressed in a legal context.
"The statement is currently being referred to GCA's legal counsel. The statement by the NCF not only unfairly attacks the integrity of GCA staff, but it implies that the Council is subject to outside influence in its policy deliberations", Mr Ginns said.
"The only interests GCA has are the interests of its members and the interests of the vast majority of grain producers in Australia who want access to technology that will make them more efficient farmers. NCF and other extreme environmental groups are only interested in a very narrow view of the world and they represent a tiny number of farm businesses, many of them part time farmers and full time activists", Mr Ginns said.
"GCA will be making no comment on these statements by NCF representatives until legal opinion is forthcoming".
For more information, contact:
Who's pulling GCA's strings, ask farmers
Press Release: For immediate release
09 August 2005
The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) has accused the Grains Council of Australia (GCA) [of being] ignorant of the issues surrounding GM crops. This follows a press release and submission issued by Grains Council of Australia claiming a GM liability legislation is unwarranted in opposition to West Australian Agricultural Minister Kim Chance's support of the proposal.
"What right has the Grains Council of Australia to accept GM liability on behalf of farmers that do not want and do not need GM products?" asked Julie Newman, National Spokesperson for the Network of Concerned Farmers.
"The GM benefits promoted appear to be little more than a scam but consumer and market rejection is very real and farmers need fair risk management. GCA don't seem to realise that the best of biotechnology is non-GM."
"Ignorance and arrogance is no excuse for GCA to deny fair risk management."
The NCF have been promoting a strict liability legislation for many years claiming that farmers are required to sign contracts guaranteeing there is no GM in their non-GM products and that they would be liable for economic loss caused by GM contamination. Mrs Newman claims that numerous lawyers have confirmed that there is little legal redress for non-GM farmers to claim compensation caused by GM contamination.
"Why should the polluted pay? A strict liability legislation ensures the polluter pays which is only fair and reasonable."
"How dare GCA staff ignore the burden on farmers and exempt GM companies from the burden of liability caused by their GM product. Why is GCA supporting the GM companies rather than the farmers they claim to represent?"
"It has been obvious that Mr Ginns, CEO of GCA is extremely pro-GM and has been very active in promoting GM amongst GCA members, but an employee should not be allowed such free rein when representing farmers."
Mrs Newman claims the GCA statement is directly opposed to WAFarmers policy which clearly states that liability issues need to be addressed.
"If liability is not addressed, consumers will have no choice because it will be too difficult and too expensive for farmers to market as non-GM."
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Contact: Julie Newman 08 98711562 or 0427 711644
GM LIABILITY LEGISLATION UNWARRANTED AND COSTLY FOR PRODUCERS
GCA Press Release:
Released 9 August 2005
The Grains Council of Australia has dismissed calls for Federal liability legislation to cover genetically modified products as unwarranted and unreasonable.
GCA’s Chief Operating Officer, David Ginns, said today that a proposal from Western Australia for Federal legislation to specifically cover any liability related to production of GM crops would place an unreasonable burden on an area of technology development which is proved to have substantial benefits for consumers, developing countries and producers.
"Agricultural biotechnology is critical to the future of Australian plant industries, as it will allow greater freedom for the development of more efficient, environmentally and socially sustainable food, fibre and industrial product value chains. Agri-biotechnology is much broader than modification of plant varieties to confer chemical resistance, which represents less than 10 per cent of plant biotechnology’, Mr Ginns said.
"Australian producers must have access to new technology, because the adoption by our competitors of agri-biotechnology is providing them with a productivity advantage over Australian producers", he said.
"Any attempt to restrict that access through the imposition of unnecessary legislation must be resisted. The sector is over regulated at the moment. The Federal government spends $8 million each year regulating plant biotechnology, but the grains industry currently invests only $6 million in research in this area. This is not a reasonable balance and the technology would be regulated out of existence".
"On the matter of liability, the use of bio technology is no different from any other technology used on farm, including herbicides and pesticides. Producers have a responsibility to ensure their actions don’t impact on others".
"The current legal system provides recourse for producers to pursue damages if there is a clear case of having incurred real loss or damage through the actions of others. Calls for even more laws restricting farmers’ rights represent a severe over-reaction by activists representing a minority view", Mr Ginns said.
"This is a knee jerk response to the detection of traces of GM canola in a West Australian shipment, which is merely the result of improved testing regimes. The WA Government has conceded that the interim tests are unreliable, and that the level is well below anything that would compromise the State’s GM-free status" he said.
For more information contact Niree Creed 041 8625595