Australian Grain Harvesters worried by GM canola
The Land, 10 June 2008
THE Australian Grain Harvesters Association (AGHA) is becoming increasingly concerned about the implications of handling genetically-modified (GM) canola crops as the countdown to this year's harvest gets under way.
Already, there is talk of members boycotting properties growing GM canola for fear of spreading seed into non-GM canola paddocks.
At issue are the legal implications which might eventuate should header operators unintentionally spread GM canola seeds when moving between properties.
The topic surfaced at a recent south east Queensland branch meeting of the AGHA in Toowoomba where Kingaroy-based header operator, John Murphy, called for a meeting with Monsanto Australia to discuss the issue.
"I'm not against GM canola crops being grown but anybody who introduces a commodity into Australia which some people don't want, and it's detrimental to some people's financial interests, then somebody has to take responsibility," he said.
"I just what to make sure everybody is happy with the (harvesting) procedures and that the interests of header contractors are protected,"” Mr Murphy said.
Then there's the issue of costly downtime needed to clean down big harvesters as they move from a GM canola crop back into a non-GM canola paddock. Assuming it takes about five hours to properly clean-down, operating costs of between $350 to $400/hour also have to be taken into consideration by AGHA members.
As well, the AGHA says it will be talking with insurance companies with respect to their members being covered in the event of court action over contamination.
As a result, the Queensland branch of the AGHA wants a list of where GM canola is being grown so its members can make up their own minds as to whether they should harvest these crops.
* Footnote: Monsanto Australia says it is committed to ensuring that all stakeholders along the supply chain are "comfortable" with this year's limited commercial release of Roundup Ready canola.