02/10/2011

Call for Moratorium as Farmers Switch Off GE-Canola, and Sales Fall

 

Farmers are learning a hard lesson in Western Australia and are switching back to GM-free canola after GE canola sales have floundered [1].

The experience of farmers across the Tasman signals the huge opportunity for Brand New Zealand to preserve its GE-Free status. All that is necessary to realise the long-term economic benefit of clean, safe GM-free food production is for government to keep New Zealand production GE-free and restore the moratorium on commercial release.

"Our GE-free status is gaining us a marketing edge where organic and GE-free is in demand, and this must be protected," says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ in Food and Environment.

Western Australian Minister for Agriculture Terry has announced that Canola yields and quality suffered severely because of weather conditions and he was advised that "none of this GM canola has been sold at this point..." [2].

The GE canola has become an economic loss-making exercise as buyers pay less per tonne than for its higher quality GE-free counterpart. On top of this, it appears there are no buyers for GE canola seed, as farmers turn their backs on the GE variants and respond to market signals demanding GE-free product. This has prompted the contract Grain Traders to ask farmers to go back to growing GE-free canola for their export markets.

The information comes on the back of GE contamination of Australian organic farms, with cases now reaching the Courts. Farmers have had a taste of how costly it becomes when neighbours' livelihoods are affected by their farming activities.

"Unfortunately it is too late for some farmers to avoid damage from the economic gamble taken by others," says Claire Bleakley, president of GE-Free NZ in Food and Environment. "This is a sharp reminder that co-existence between GE and non-GE cannot work; the former effectively destroys the latter, along with the economic benefits that GE-free status brings."

For consumers and manufacturers using canola, the move back to GE-free production is positive. Earlier in the year Infant Formula manufacturers stated that they were no longer able to ensure a GE-free ingredient supply-line, signalling a threat to the integrity of the food supply. Goodman Fielder which has a GE-Free policy, had also begun to find it harder and harder to obtain GE-Free canola for their breads.

“It is significant for consumers in New Zealand and across the Tasman, that Australian farmers are moving away from GE cropping. Food safety and the wellbeing of loved ones is paramount, and this move assures us that our food choice is protected by allowing companies to source GE-free ingredients,” says Claire Bleakely.

The Australian farmer experience with GE is a warning to our government against any push for the introduction of GE ryegrass and against compromising our GE-free status by trading away food labelling, GE-free production and sovereignty under the TPPA or other trade deals.

It now falls to the WA government to reinstate their moratorium on GE crops, just as New Zealand's government needs to do.

ENDS:
Claire Bleakley 027 348 6731
Jon Carapiet 021 0507681

[1] GM canola — is anyone buying it? by Lisa Roth of student publication 3rd Degree
http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/30/gm-canola-is-anyone-buying-it/

[2] Extract from Hansard, [COUNCIL — Thursday, 23 June 2011], p4736b-4736b, Hon Lynn MacLaren; Hon Peter Collier,
GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD — HONEY AND CANOLA http://www.lynnmaclaren.org.au/genetically-modified-food-honey-and-canola

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