|Japanese consumers tell Canada to stop GM wheat / Local bodies may have right to compensation over GE errors (22/3/2004)|
"We will reject GM wheat," said Keisuke Amagasa of the No! GMO Campaign. "If GM wheat is approved and commercial planting begins here, we will take action to prevent the import of wheat from Canada." (item 1)
"Councils may have the right to demand millions of dollars in compensation if things go wrong with genetically modified crops, says a legal expert." (item 2)
1.Japanese consumers tell Canada to stop GM wheat
1.Japanese consumers tell Canada to stop GM wheat
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 22 (Reuters) - Japan will stop buying Canadian wheat if Canada approves a variety of genetically modified wheat, a delegation of Japanese consumer groups warned on Monday.
Bearing a petition signed by 414 Japanese organizations and companies, and saying that they represent more than 1.1 million people, the activists said they wanted to take their message to Canadian politicians in person.
"We will reject GM wheat," said Keisuke Amagasa of the No! GMO Campaign. "If GM wheat is approved and commercial planting begins here, we will take action to prevent the import of wheat from Canada."
Japanese consumers are worried that biotech crops have not had enough testing to prove they are safe, Amagasa said.
Japan is one of Canada's biggest wheat markets, buying an average of 1.3 million tonnes a year.
Genetically modified wheat is not yet grown commercially, but Canadian and U.S. regulators for more than a year have been reviewing safety data for a variety developed by Monsanto Co. (nyse: MON - news - people)
The wheat has been altered so it can withstand Roundup, a Monsanto herbicide. Regulators have not said how long their review will take.
The Canadian Wheat Board, which has a monopoly on most of Canada's wheat crop, has said government approvals would put most of its markets in jeopardy.
But Monsanto has promised it will wait to commercialize its wheat until it can keep it segregated from traditional grain and find customers who will buy it.
It has also promised it will not commercialize the wheat until regulators in the United States and Japan have also approved it.
"We recognize that there will be buyers who show a preference for non-biotech wheat," said Trish Jordan, a spokeswoman for Monsanto Canada. "So what we're trying to do ... is to set up a system that maintains choice for all buyers," she said.
The company has made its final submissions of regulatory data in Canada and the United States. It has also submitted preliminary safety data to Japan and several other countries, Jordan said.
"Even though we're a long way away from commercial introduction, there should be no reason why Japan cannot continue to buy Canadian wheat," Jordan said.
The Japanese delegates said millers had told them it would be too difficult and expensive to segregate GM wheat from traditional wheat.
"Millers have therefore said that unless Japanese consumers ... accept (genetically modified) wheat, they will not be able to sell it," said Koga Masaka of Consumers Union of Japan.
The delegates planned to take their petition to Ottawa on Tuesday and then to state legislatures in Montana and North Dakota later in the week.
2.Local bodies may have right to compo over GE errors
Councils may have the right to demand millions of dollars in compensation if things go wrong with genetically modified crops, says a legal expert. Rebellious Northland councils paid the Sustainability Council, an anti-GM group, to explore their rights in regard to the release of GM plants in their areas.
The Sustainability Council's report contains advice from top environmental lawyer Dr Royden Somerville that councils may be able to impose GM no-go zones and their own liability regimes.
The Far North, Whangarei, Kaipara and Rodney District councils, with help from Local Government NZ, commissioned the GM report after frustration at what they saw as the Government's dismissal of their concerns about GM crop contamination.
"A community can put in place a liability regime requiring those engaging in a GM release to pay compensation for harm caused by an approved release," Dr Somerville said in the report.
He also found that councils might be able to use the Resource Management Act to impose GM-free zones.
His findings on liability contradict the controversial clause in the Government's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO), which demands compensation from people growing and releasing genetically modified organisms only if they flout the rules.
Sustainability Council executive director Simon Terry said local authorities were right to be worried.
"Local authorities are likely to be picking up the tab for any environmental damage and that is obviously a key consideration in looking at these issues."
Whangarei council environmental planner Kerry Grundy said local authorities had tried to make their concerns heard when the HSNO bill was passed last year.
"There has been a fair amount of frustration at the lack of notice central government took," he said.
"You could say they were pretty much ignored."
3.Processing GM maize in the UK: First steps on road to Mayhem
The model proposed by the RICS has potential for use in any country that allows the growing of GMOs.
NATURAL LAW PARTY WESSEX [email protected] www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex
Tearing Down Biotech's 'Berlin Wall' www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/genomicsparadigm.htm
The Acceptable Face Of Ag-biotech www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/monsantoMASpossibilities.htm
Processing GM maize in the UK: First steps on road to Mayhem 09 March 2004
The introduction of GM (genetically modified) crops into UK farming could cause widespread chaos, says RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). Today's announcement by Margaret Beckett that GM maize crops will be processed for animal feed in the UK, with a view to planting in the future, is just the thin end of the wedge.
While other organisations continue to debate the pros and cons of planting GM crops in the UK, RICS has outlined a proposal for a web-based GMO land register that is simple, cost efficient and, above all, minimises the risk of red tape frustrating farmers and seed producers. RICS insists that the register will only work if a strict method of compliance is introduced from the outset.
Julian Sayers, rural spokesperson at RICS, whose members manage much of the land in rural Britain, says:
'Margaret Beckett's announcement seems to have moved the debate from 'if' GM crops are introduced in the UK, to 'when'. As chartered surveyors and land managers it would be irresponsible not to put pressure on the Government to ensure that the right guidelines are in place before it is too late. Once GM crops are grown without a proper recording system the situation cannot be reversed.
'It is imperative that an accurate system of recording the location of GM crops is developed for both land management and environmental reasons - and we believe our paper outlines a viable and sensible approach.
'We must ensure that both consumers and growers have genuine choice on the decisions they make about GM products - they can only do this if they are given more information.'
Although the Government is obliged, under European law (EC directive 2001/18/EC), to keep a register of those areas where GM crops are being grown, until now insufficient thought has been given to how such a register would be drawn up and maintained.
A RICS paper, entitled 'Setting up a GMO Land Register', has called for the onus for provision of information about the location of GM crops to be placed on the organisation applying for the marketing consent, ie, the relevant biotech company. Such information should be made publicly available on an internet based system at least three months ahead of planting and should be based on the largest scale Ordnance Survey maps.
The benefits of a GMO Land Register:
* Ensures traceability of GM crops.
* Information is accessible to everyone; benefiting:-
- Farmers who need to know the cropping plans and history of their neighbour's land.
- Prospective purchasers of lessees of land and property during transactions
- Rural professionals involved in advising clients on land and property management
- Those trading in non-GM crops or organic crops who need to ensure that their products meet the grower's claims.
- Owners and occupiers of land who wish to comply with all the rules and codes of practice as a defence against potential legal liability claims from neighbouring farmers and others suffering loss or damage through cross-contamination.
- Financial organisations lending money against security of agricultural, horticultural and other property.
- Organisations monitoring the impact of GM crops on environment and health