Oz industry leaders betraying farmers (9/11/2005)

"The GM industry must be laughing at our industry leaders. The GM benefits are just not there to pay for the multitudes of parasites wanting to profit from GM introduction."


Embargoed till Thursday 10 November

The Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) is warning Industry leaders that they should not be ignoring the economic wellbeing of farmers in their personal support of GM crops. The NCF claim industry leaders are betraying farmers to side with the GM companies.

"We are being sold out by our industry leaders and they should be held accountable for accepting liability on behalf of farmers," said Juliet McFarlane, canola grower from Young, NSW.

"Why are existing policies being ignored? Why are ex Monsanto managers and GM companies now actively working with farm lobby groups to evolve policies and strategies? This is coercing industry unity to force additional costs on farmers." (Ref 1)

"The GM industry must be laughing at our industry leaders. The GM benefits are just not there to pay for the multitudes of parasites wanting to profit from GM introduction."

The NCF claim that State lobby groups such as NSW Farmers, WA Farmers, GRDC, AWB and GCA are making statements that clearly oppose the policies and constitutions of their organisations. (Ref 2)

"If these organisations followed their policies, there must be proof of an economic advantage, a guarantee that segregation will meet market demand and a guarantee that existing farmers will not be adversely affected. Instead, these issues are being ignored with an attitude that allowing GM contamination without risk management will resolve the issue."

Although there is nothing set in legislation, the Primary Industries Ministerial Council recently approved the setting of tolerance levels for GM crops. The NCF state there is an industry led push for commercial sized coexistence trials which they feel is a deliberate attempt to worsen contamination.

"If the industry can't control contamination when it is prohibited, what is going to happen if they are allowed to grow thousands of hectares of GM canola with little or no restrictions?"

"Farmer profitability is already being eroded by additional expensive testing costs and market risks associated with an acceptance of tolerance levels. If industry leaders accept commercial release under the guise of "coexistence trials", the costs will increase further as farmers will need to adopt an expensive identity preservation system," said Mrs McFarlane.

ABARE estimated the identity preservation system as $35/tonne (or 10-15% of the gross value of the product) to maintain a 1% tolerance level. The system involves a rigorous quality assurance system where farmers ensure they have taken every step to avoid contamination with GM.

"All farmers are expected to pay more to allow a few selfish hyped up farmers to find out for themselves that they have been misled by an expensive propaganda campaign that relies more on slamming opposition than providing factual data."

"If the science of GM is as flawed as their debate, we will have some real problems in the future."


Juliet McFarlane NSW 02 63822509
Julie Newman WA 08 98711562 or 08 98711644
Geoffrey Carracher Vic 03 53866261
Network of Concerned Farmers

Reference 1:

1.1. West Australian Farmers Federation Press Release

Heavily lobbied and admittance that current existing varieties not better than conventional varieties: http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2514

Extract: "WAFarmers has been recently lobbied by the major players in GM technology and they have made it clear that further trials in WA will not happen unless there is a clear path to market for their product. Nor are they likely to conduct trials until such time as they can be confident of a new seed variety that will clearly demonstrate benefits over existing conventionally bred varieties. In effect, if all barriers were cleared today, it would be two to three years before trials were recommenced."

1.2. Quote from David Hudson's (ex Monsanto's GM crops manager) submission to the Gene Tech Act Review. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/publishing.nsf/Content/EE07F6CC6BBFA835CA257065000A3B60/$File/sga_070.pdf

"David has been actively engaged in the evolution of the grains and seed industries policies and strategies for the introduction of agbiotech products for Australia, having active involvement in the development of policies for the Gene Technology Grains Committee, Australian Seeds Federation, Australian Oilseeds Federation and more recently Ausbiotech, *and the Grains Council of Australia*."

1.3. Agrifood Awareness, chiefly funded by Avcare (the chemical industry) is a major contributor to policy of farm organisations.

Reference 2:

Extracts from Policies:

*GRDC: they "must provide substantial agronomic, environmental and economic benefits" to the stakeholders i.e. graingrowers and taxpayers.

*AWB: "Therefore before GM canola can be released commercially in Australia, the AWB National Pool requires a supply chain system that can achieve segregation of GM and non-GM grains and guarantee product integrity."

*GCA: Constitution:

The objects of the Grains Council of Australia are: (b) to maximise the economic and social welfare of Australia’s grain growers; and

FUNCTIONS - To initiate and influence policy decisions on matters which affect the profitability, viability, sustainability, comparative advantage and international competitiveness of Australia’s grain growers;

To develop strategies that address key issues, industry objectives, impediments or opportunities to trade which affect the grains industry, in a manner that will enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, viability or comparative advantage of Australia’s grains industry;

*West Australia:

"WAFarmers supports continued well contained trialed research into GMOs providing legal liability issues are addressed adequately. WAFarmers will consider the commercial release of GMO crops in WA on a case by case basis after full assessment of benefits, alternatives, risks and risk management.

WAFarmers supports the current State Government moratorium on the commercial release of GMOs however, requires that the new State Government implement a high level industry consultative group to provide advice directly to the Minister for Agriculture.

WAFarmers accepts the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) and its charter to protect the health and safety of Australians and the Australian environment, however, requires that measures are implemented to address issues of co-existence, economic and legal liability."

*South Australia:

"The Federation believes that the ultimate decision regarding adoption of gene technology rests entirely with the marketplace when taking into account financial, environmental and philosophical reasons. However, in choosing such a status there must be no negative impact on those who choose not to embrace the technology. "

...2003 SAFF Conference Resolutions Further to the above position, the Federation at its annual conference held in July resolved that the meeting record its opposition to the commercial release of GM canola in South Australia while issues of market acceptance, cost and liability remain unresolved.

Additionally, the Conference resolved that the Federation call on the state and federal Governments to delay the commercial release of GM canola until it can be shown that there will be minimal risks on other growers.

*New South Wales:

That the Association support:

...(c) the commercial release of GM products provided that:

(ii) the release is clearly supported by the industry concerned on the basis of its significant economic or environmental benefits

(iii) the interests of farmers affected by the commercial release are protected, where necessary, by a cost effective and robust system of identity preservation implemented along the length of the supply chain; and

(iv) farmers are able to insure against potential litigation that might result from their adoption of the technology.


"AgForce Grains supports individual grain growers having the right to maintain their current farming and marketing practices in the event of the release of GMO crop varieties for commercial production. In the event of the release of GMO crops for commercial purposes, producers choosing to utilise their traditional or current marketing and production systems should not be negatively impacted in regard to supply chain costs or market access."

2.2 NCF National Spokesperson, Julie Newman claimed the Grains Council of Australia (GCA) submission to the Gene Technology Act review did not comply with the policies of the organisations GCA represented. The Grains Council of Australia (GCA) responded by threatening legal action but Mrs Newman has not heard from the lawyers since she gave detailed references to the GCA. The GCA submission opposed a strict liability regime and promoted removing the States ability to impose moratoriums based on economic or market risk. (more details http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2419 )


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