Organic Consumers Association

OCA
Homepage

Previous Page

Click here to print this page

Make a Donation!

JOIN THE OCA NETWORK!

Farmers Put Pressure on Gene Giant Bayer in Australia for Genetic Contamination

http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2392

Remove your unwanted genes Bayer Cropscience

For immediate release, 06 September 2005

A delegation of farmers from the Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) protested at Bayer Cropscience headquarters in Melbourne today. Farmers delivered samples of canola to be tested and asked Bayer Cropscience to "remove their trespassing genes" from their properties. (Letter Ref 5) "The industry can not just ignore contamination until after we deliver our harvest and farmers can’t accept any contamination if we are to be liable for the economic loss or additional costs caused by it," insisted Geoffrey Carracher, NCF spokesperson and Victorian farmer from Minimay.

"It's a moratorium and it is Bayer Cropscience's responsibility to recall their unwanted GM product just as it would be our job to collect our sheep if they wandered on the road or on to another farmers property."

Since the contamination scandal was announced in several states, an industry task force has been established to routinely test seed samples and the protocol adopted involves growing the samples and spraying it with the chemicals the GM crop is resistant to. Only GM crops would survive and further testing would be done on positive results. The testing procedure would take at least 8 weeks. (Ref 4) Farmers need to know if we have contamination as we will be signing to guarantee there is no contamination in our seed when we deliver it. We can’t wait a few months for a test and Bayer Cropscience were meant to have a better test than that."

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) imposed a condition of license on Bayer Cropscience to provide a testing methodology that is able to reliably detect the presence of each of the GMOs or their genetic material. The NCF contacted the regulators office but were told that the testing information was "commercial in confidence." (Ref 2) "It is commercial incompetence not to have an accurate field test when these varieties were planned to be released and coexist with non-GM varieties. How can we tell if we have contamination when there is no test available for it?" asked Mr Carracher.

"In order to deflect the blame to seed imports, Bayer Cropscience reported on the ABC yesterday that the variety Topas 19/2 was only grown in Tasmania but the OGTR site reveals this variety was included in trials in all the states that have reported contamination." (Ref 3) "We don’t believe Bayer Cropscience has complied with their license conditions and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator should withdraw their license until they do."

The NCF are urging farmers to forward samples to Bayer Cropscience in order to assist any future legal action that may be taken against the company if economic loss has occurred.

"Bayer Cropscience refused to have the samples tested and refused to sign the letter of receipt," reported Mr Carracher.

Contact: Geoffrey Carracher 0428 316901 or Jessica Harrison 0407307231

1. Photos will be posted as soon as available.
2. OGTR condition of license: Under Section 15 of the Conditions of license imposed by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator on Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd for the Commercial release of InVigor® canola(Brassica napus) for use in the Australian cropping system DIR 021/2002 released 25th July 2003: http://www.ogtr.gov.au/rtf/gmorec/dir021lic.rtf

The licence holder must provide a written instrument to the Regulator describing an experimental method that is capable of reliably detecting the presence of the GMOs covered by this licence and any transferred genetically modified material that might be present in a recipient organism. The instrument must be provided within 30 days of  this licence being issued."

"Specific condition 1 requires the licence holder to provide a testing methodology to the Regulator that is capable of reliably detecting the presence of the GMO."

3. Comment re Topas 19/2 trials: See ABC Country Hour" Reference: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/vic/today.htm ; "Samples of the genetically modified canola known as Topas 19/2 have been found in all three states; a variety that has only been trialed once, back in 1998 in Tasmania." ... "In that interview Ms O'Neill told us the GM variety Topas 19/2 had been grown in trials at Horsham in 1997. So when we heard the variety was grown in trials in Tasmania, we contacted Bayer for some clarification. Ms O'Neill informed us "subsequent investigations by Bayer Cropscience have revealed that the variety Topas 19/2 was not grown in trials in Horsham, or indeed anywhere in mainland Australia." Bayer have confirmed the variety was trialled in Tasmania, but was not able to say exactly where." http://www.ogtr.gov.au/rtf/ir/dir021finalrarmpsum2.rtf "Under the former voluntary system overseen by the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee (GMAC), Bayer (formerly AgrEvo, Aventis CropScience) conducted 14 field trials (PR62, PR63 and extensions) with all seven GM canola lines in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

In addition, the Regulator issued a licence on 30 July 2002 to Bayer (DIR010/2002) to conduct a limited and controlled release of the same GM canola lines at 30 trial sites, totalling 106 hectares, in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for the summer and winter growing seasons in the three years from 2002-03."

4. Australian Oilseeds Federation testing protocol: http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2394

5. Letter delivered to Bayer Cropscience: available at http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2392
------

********************************************************************************************************
This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the Ecological Farming Association www.eco-farm.org <http://www.eco-farm.org/
********************************************************************************************************