Farmers warn of GM concerns in Australia
2.Non-GM farmers to pay for unwanted GM contamination
3.Conservation Council stands strong against GM canola
EXTRACTS: Mr Parr says he now has to have each lot of seed he cleans tested for GM contamination and send the results to Monsanto.
"In effect I have become an unpaid enforcement officer for Monsanto." Mr Parr said.
"Because of GM contamination and the monopoly control of seeds by biotech companies, in the United States it is nearly impossible to go back. Farmers in Australia still have a choice about whether they want to go down the GM path or not."
Mr Murray, a farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, grew GM Roundup Ready canola for some years. He said he found that it failed to deliver industry promises.
"GM canola doesn't stack up; it doesn't yield more than conventional canola, whereas it costs more to grow," he said. "But now farmers don't have a choice; non-GM canola has been eliminated by genetic contamination."
1.Farmers warn of GM concerns
Weekly Times, February 26 2009
TWO North American Farmers are touring Australia to warn about their experiences with genetically modified (GM) food crops.
The farmers, Moe Parr and Ross Murray. say more than a decade of growing GM crops in North America has resulted in increased corporate control of farming and reduced profits for farmers.
As Australian farmers prepare to plant this year’s canola crop, the North Americans will speak at forums across key canola growing regions in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.
The farmers are speaking to parliamentarians at the Victoria Parliament today, and will be speaking to farmers in Horsham on Saturday at 2pm at the Wellesley Performing Arts Centre.
In 2008, small quantities of GM canola were grown commercially in New South Wales and Victoria after these two states lifted moratoria.
Western Australia has also announced that it will allow large-scale field trials of GM canola for the first time this year.
Mr Parr, a seed cleaner from Indiana, in the United States, was sued by Monsanto in 2007 for allegedly "aiding", "abetting" and "encouraging" GM soy farmers to break the patent law by saving seed.
Mr Parr said he was unable to afford the legal fees to defend himself and was forced to settle out of court.
As part of the settlement, Mr Parr says he now has to have each lot of seed he cleans tested for GM contamination and send the results to Monsanto.
“In effect I have become an unpaid enforcement officer for Monsanto.” Mr Parr said.
“Because of GM contamination and the monopoly control of seeds by bio tech companies, in the United States it is nearly impossible to go back. Farmers in Australia still have a choice about whether they want to go down the GM path or not.”
Mr Murray, a farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, grew GM Roundup Ready canola for some years.
He said he found that it failed to deliver industry promises.
"GM canola doesn't stack up; it doesn’t yield more than conventional canola, whereas it costs more to grow," he said. "But now farmers don't have a choice; non-GM canola has been eliminated by genetic contamination."
Julie Newman, a Western Australian canola farmer and member of the Network of Concerned Farmers, says: “GM canola will risk the livelihoods of non-GM canola farmers. The end point royalty system, under which Monsanto can deduct fees from non-GM canola farmers even for accidental contamination, leaves them completely without choice.“
She said concerned Australian farmers were calling on the federal and state governments to protect their choice and livelihood by introducing liability legislation to protect non-GM farmers from any economic losses caused by GM contamination.
“Our governments must put the interest of farmers before those of multinational agribusiness companies. All we are asking for is fair risk management”, Ms Newman said.
2.Non-GM farmers to pay for unwanted GM contamination
Network of Concerned Farmers, 24 Feb 2009
The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) have called a halt on GM canola trials in West Australia due to unacceptable contract conditions that they claim will force non-GM farmers to pay for contamination. The controversial details of an interim briefing note between West Australian bulk handling company CBH, and Monsanto has been exposed today to the W.A. ABC Country Hour. The briefing was submitted by CBH as part of a 246 page compilation of comments by the members of the Ministerial GMO Industry Reference Group on the draft GM canola paper planned to be released soon and Julie Newman (NCF) is a member of this committee.
"Charging farmers for contamination that they did not want and could not prevent is not acceptable business practise and clearly anti-competitive." said Julie Newman, Newdegate farmer and National Spokesperson for the Network of Concerned Farmers.
"CBH must not sign this contract and trials can not proceed until this issue is resolved and further contracts are investigated fully,"
The NCF interpretation of the contract briefing notes between Monsanto and CBH is CBH will be paid an additional $7.50/test to test non-GM farmers canola using sensitive test kits that can register positive for GM as low as 0.5% GM contamination. If positive (ie. over 0.5% contaminated) CBH must charge the non-GM canola farmer a "significant penalty" as set by Monsanto and the positive test strip must be retained for Monsanto. NCF believe Monsanto can then pursue the farmer for further royalty payments and push farmers to sign contracts with Monsanto.
"Minister Redman has indicated that contamination up to 0.9% is acceptable and expected with GM canola trials, but he did not explain that non-GM farmers have to pay CBH and Monsanto for it," said Mrs Newman.
"This is a similar situation to Brazil where all farmers pay Monsanto’s fees unless they can prove they have no GM contamination which is too difficult and too expensive to achieve."
NCF have further concern for other contracts involving industry, including the research, breeding, seed production, agronomic management, delivery, marketing, processing and farm lobby groups and are calling for these contract details to be made public.
"This information is a rare exposure of contract conditions that have been introduced to all sectors of the supply chain and farmers are not aware of the intention to introduce closed loop marketing through these contracts."
"Everybody along the supply chain is being promised more money and the only sector of the industry that is going to be made to pay for it is farmers. GM canola has proven to be a failure in Australia but there are plans to extract money from farmers incomes even if we do not agree."
"It is obvious that the intention of the GM sector is to contaminate and collect from all farmers by contracting all industries to remove choice. This is not acceptable and can not be permitted."
Contact: Julie Newman Phone 08 98711562 or 08 98711644. www.non-gm-farmers.com
Exact wording of David Fienberg (CBH) comments in "Comments by the members of the Ministerial GMO industry reference group on the December 2008 Draft of the GM canola paper (12th February, 2009)
"Note following the meeting:
We need to confirm that the position of the CBH business with industry is as follows that the deliverer of GM canola will be charged a fee for service that will include meeting the cost of testing the deliverer of non-GM canola for the presence of GM product. This is a policy different to the east coast grain companies (according to a verbal report by Kim Chance) and is in conflict with the intent of Monsanto for the business to manage the GM canola trial for the 2009/10 harvest.
Monsanto have intended that the cost of receiving GM and non-GM canola be equitably priced”¦ there is no price disincentive for GM growers.
To date we have yet to see a contract proposed by Monsanto, however the attached briefing note has been provided as an interim measure. The interim 'briefing note' from Monsanto has the following implications:-
*Monsanto will license only CBH to receive their GM canola does this have the capacity to persist and force growers to use their designated storage agent. If not signed, do we (CBH) remove our capacity to receive Canola owned by ‘Monsanto’ growers.
*Mutually agreed sites for receival.
*Reference to Better Farm IQ to suport the receival and management.
*CBH will charge fees nominated by Monsanto.
*Significant penalties be charged by CBH for deliveries of non-Monsanto GM canola growers.
*We (CBH) will use a test kit and protocol approved and provided by Monsanto. CBH will be paid $7.50/test.
CBH will be paid $5.13 per tonne for all canola received.
*Random testing by Monsanto of non-licensed growers for the GM trait.
*CBH to retain the positive test strips and provide to Monsanto on demand.
*Payments for collecting the fees be made electronically to Monsanto.
*The right of growers to have grain returned is removed by the Monsanto provisions to only deliver to food processors.
NCF further comments:
Monsanto issues an exclusive license to a specific storage and handler providing contract conditions are met. If not approved, alternative storage and handler will be sought which puts pressure on CBH to accept terms.
CBH is to charge fees nominated by Monsanto. These include significant fines (? value) + Technology user fee (currently $10.20/tonne).Monsanto could also set the fees for storage and handling (need contract specifics).
There must be no price disincentive for GM growers. CBH will be paid an additional $5.13 per tonne by Monsanto for all GM canola received. Monsanto could set a cheaper fee for GM growers, and Monsanto will compensate CBH to $5.13/tonne.
CBH will be paid $7.50 per test by Monsanto to use the test kit and protocol approved and provided by Monsanto (which is sensitive to 0.5% GM contamination). CBH must retain all positive test strips and provide to Monsanto on demand. Random testing is to be undertaken by Monsanto of non-licenced growers for the GM trait. "Significant penalties be charged by CBH for deliveries of non-Monsanto GM canola growers." A positive test will be triggered with only 0.5% contamination which is the amount allowed in non-GM seed for sowing. CBH must impose "significant penalties" on the non-GM grower for this and tests must be retained by Monsanto (for further action.)
Payments for collecting the fees be made electronically to Monsanto which effectively removes Monsanto from the key role of policing their royalty collection.
The right of growers to have grain returned is removed by the Monsanto provisions to only deliver to food processors which allows Monsanto to dictate the buyer of their GM canola in a closed loop marketing arrangement.
As early as 1999, the research sector revealed the intention of genetically modified crops to pursue a closed loop marketing system involving the whole of industry. A government submission extract from 1999 by the Crop Research Centre (CRC) http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/primind/gtinq/ sums up this intention:
"Companies are establishing alliances to involve groups at all stages of the chain - breeding, seed production, agronomic management of crops, grain delivery, marketing, processing and consumers - with the aim of achieving profits at each stage. The producer will be affected not only by the cost of seed, but through an End Point Royalty imposed on delivery, and the price paid for the product... There may be contractual obligations between the farmer and the seed supplier or the marketer that are not currently present."
3.Conservation Council stands strong against GM canola
ABC, 26 Feb 2009
The Conservation Council has vowed to continue its campaign against the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops in Western Australia.
Yesterday, Agriculture Minister Terry Redman announced preliminary land boundaries for the commercial trials of GM canola, with exact locations to be revealed next month.
Mr Redman says the 20 farms selected to plant the crops will be located in the great southern and wheatbelt, between Cranbrook, Borden, Northam and Cunderdin.
The council's Piers Verstegen