Friday, March 18, 2011
Floods wash away GM canola crop, sparking contamination concern
By Laura Poole from Natimuk 3409
March 18, 2011
The debate over genetically modified seed contamination has reignited, with floods spreading GM canola onto a non GM property.
At the base of Mt Arapiles in Western Victoria two broadacre farmers go about their day to day work, making cropping decisions best suited to their businesses.
They both grow cereal crops and oilseed crops, including canola.
On his boundary fence Lyall Hedt grew GM canola.
In January flooding rains washed part of the GM canola crop, over the boundary fence, into Bob Mackley’s paddock.
“Well I’ve got here a stubble left over from last year’s wheat crop, but it’s had a lot of water flow through it after a rain event in January.
“What’s happened is I have a neighbour who has grown a crop of GM canola, windrowed it and before it was harvested we had this rain event and it’s washed the GM canola material from his block, broken the fence and into my paddock.
“I now have GM canola material in this paddock on my block.”
Mr Mackley says he’s concerned a decision his neighbour has made, will cost him money.
“There are three issues which concern me greatly.
“Number one is it’s forcing me to change my rotations because I have a neighbour that’s growing GM canola.
“It’s also making my weed control issues far more complex.
“Thirdly, and this is the real kicker, what ongoing liability is there regarding having this material on my land?”
Mr Hedt, farming on the opposite side of the fence, says he doesn’t think the seed will germinate and cause a problem for his neighbour.
“It was beyond our control, it was due to the unseasonal wet season. There was an enormous amount of water that came across our paddock.
“Considering the type of year we’ve had, I think whatever I can do will not recoup any of the seed. I think at this point of time it’s probably all shattered or rotted or shot or decomposing.
“I don’t think we can salvage anything. Somehow I don’t think they’ll be regerminating given the unusual set of circumstances we’ve had this year.”
In a written response Monsanto, who holds the patent for the GM canola technology, says gm canola and non gm canola crops can co-exist simple and easily.
“The movement of canola, and indeed other crops, is a normal occurrence between farms and is managed routinely by farmers year in and year out.
“GM canola poses no additional risks and can be managed in exactly the same way as other canola.
“It has never been, nor will it be Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented traits are present in a farmer’s paddock or grain as a result of inadvertent means.”