Ban trials until Bayer pays for damages (2/11/2005)

"Bayer Cropscience must be made to pay all costs and losses caused by their negligence, not rewarded by allowing contamination without liability redress."

Ban trials until Bayer Cropscience pays for damages
Press Release – for immediate release

The Victorian DPI [Department of Primary Industries] released details revealing that the GM contamination of the non-GM canola variety Grace was caused in Tasmania, not by importation of contaminated seed as thought. Non-GM seed was being bulked up for resale at the same location that GM trials of Topas had been grown. The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) is calling for a complete ban on all trials grown by Bayer Cropscience until damages are paid.

"Bayer Cropscience must be made to pay all costs and losses caused by their negligence, not rewarded by allowing contamination without liability redress." said Geoffrey Carracher, Victorian NCF Spokesperson.

"GM contamination should not be a surprise, the risk was obvious. The early OGTR reports show that Bayer Cropscience made little effort to contain their product in these early self regulated trials. "

"Farmers should not be expected to pay for the testing and market losses caused by Bayer Cropscience's obvious negligence."

The government has accepted a contamination in seed and produce but the NCF claim that the tolerance levels set does not comply with ACCC law or market demand for GM-free or non-GM. Mr Carracher claims farmers are still required to sign contracts to guarantee there is little or no GM contamination in their seed and stock feed despite field tests not being available to check. He also explained how industry participants are drawing up contracts to exempt themselves from liability.

"All costs and liabilities are falling on the farmers that do not want contamination, rather than the GM company that caused the problem."

"GM contamination is a risk we are not prepared to take and we shouldn't be forced to take it without adequate legal redress."

"Setting contamination levels is an easy way out for governments but they can't ignore unfair liability. Good governance involves fair compensation for allowing industry sabotage."

Mr Carracher was the first farmer in Australia to identify his Grace seed was contaminated with Bayer Cropsciences GM crop. Further expensive testing revealed that despite spraying with Triazine, the GM plants in his crop survived.

"No, I don’t want contamination and I shouldn’t be the one paying for it."

"Bayer Cropscience is allowed to grow large scale GM seed bulking trials for export to Canada with no concern of contamination of Australia's crops. Bayers license should be withdrawn and these trials must be stopped until Bayer Cropscience pays for the damages their smaller trials have already caused."

Contact: Geoffrey Carracher 03 53866261
Or Julie Newman 08 98711562 or 0427 711644
Network of Concerned Farmers

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