1.GM Coexistence Hypothetical
2.That's all folks!

NOTE: The info in item 1 may be too late for tonight's meeting but it's highly revealing about what GM coexistence really means.

You might think that, at the very minimum, it involved GM farmers in being careful not to contaminate their neighbours' crops or damage other farmers' livelihoods.

Think again!

As the following makes clear, it is not only the case that it's the non-GM growers who are likely to carry the burden of any losses associated with a GM crop they never wanted, it also turns out that they are the ones who will be expected to alter their farming practises so as to try and avoid sustaining those losses!
GM Coexistence Hypothetical - Is Coexistence of GM and non-GM canola possible?

RSL Hall, Williams, WA

Thursday 12th June at 7pm

Farmers are promised that coexistence is possible and strict protocols apply for GM farmers to prevent contamination and address market concerns. It appears the only restriction on GM farmers is to ensure they are not planting within 5 metres of a neighbouring non-GM crop (standard boundary firebreak distance).

The first industry notification that non-GM farmers were expected to alter their farming practise was a small paragraph in the latest GRDC Groundcover article titled "Strict Protocols Guide Crop Production":

"Executive director of the Australian Oilseeds Federation Rosemary Richards says that growers wanting to market their grain as non-GM must ensure the status of their seed prior to planting. Also, the grower will need to demonstate traceability through the supply chain. This could involve procedures such as vendor declaration, monitoring contractors and delivery to storage in compliance with customer requirements."

This notification caused confusion and came too late for non-GM farmers in Victoria and New South Wales to comply as farmers had already completed seeding canola.

Tonight's hypothetical aims to work through the coexistence protocols and principles to look at the detail involved to produce a non-GM product to meet market requirements and assess if the principles can be met. What is expected, who is responsible and will the finished product satisfy market demand for non-GM?

Convenor: Rose Crane (Former Producer of ABC WA Country Hour)
Representative from the Japanese Consumers Union
Rob Sewell: Chair of the GRDC coexistence protocols and past CBH chairman
Derek Clauson: Chair of WAFarmers Grains Council who endorsed protocols
Julie Newman: Spokesperson for the Network of Concerned Farmers representing non-GM farmers
Audience participation: farmers, seed suppliers, contractors, storage and handlers, marketers, processors, consumers etc.
Organiser: Janette Liddelow, Williams farmer
Host for Japanese Consumers Union: Maggie Lillith, Conservation Council

Julie Newman (Non-GM farmer) 0427 711644 or 08 98711562
Rose Crane (Convenor) 0447900975 or 08 96371111
Janette Liddelow (Organiser) 08 98851138
Maggie Lillith (Host for Japanese Consumers Union) 0412836777
2. That's all folks!

The "advantage" of RR is over as the canola has reached 6 leaf stage.

What a joke!

Farmers are now realising the limitations of GM canola.

Roundup Ready canola is bred by transferring a gene from soil bacteria to the DNA of canola to make the canola plant resistant to glyphosate. Although this can be done very easily by non-GM means (our weeds develop natural resistance to glyphosate with overuse) GM allows Monsanto to retain a patent over the crop and its progeny. Farmers become contract growers to the patent owner.

For the first time, Roundup Ready canola has been grown commercially in Victoria and New South Wales.

The first year is to be the honeymoon phase but costs are already excessive:

Roundup Ready seed has cost at least twice the price of non-GM.
An upfront stewardship fee of $1,000/property is charged (half price this year).
A "discounted introductory fee" of $10.20 per tonne on all canola delivered for the 2008 season (in the form of an end point royalty system).
Legal fees if required to assess two contracts before signing.
In the following season, the farmer will also need to

regularly scout and control unwanted volunteer canola plants
must add further chemicals to glyphosate in order to kill unwanted GM glyphosate tolerant canola volunteers
will need to limit glyphosate use in following rotations and tillage or the more toxic paraquat/diquat chemical is recommended as alternatives.
So what is the benefit?

Only broadleaf control for 6 weeks?

Glyphosate (for which Roundup Ready is bred to be resistant to) has no residual weed control and because good weed control is essential to control grasses on emergence, an alternative chemical (trifluralin) is recommended to control grasses. This gives residual grass control for the season.

Broadleaves will be controlled by the application of glyphosate but can not be applied after 6 leaf stage (around 6 weeks after planting and the plant is as high as your workboot).

Makes a mockery of the pro-GM public relations exercise of painting GM farmers up to be "progressive" doesn’t it?