GE canola contamination in Australia

Thursday, 10 November, 2005

The Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) has called for immediate action by federal and state governments to determine the source, and extent, of the genetic engineering contamination of conventional canola in Victoria.

The BFA is Australia's largest organic farmer cooperative and largest certifier of organic foods through its subsidiary Australian Certified Organic.

Mr Scott Kinnear, BFA spokesperson said: "The GE contamination was discovered in conventional canola to be shipped to Japan. It is likely that the contamination has come from imported seed canola from North America, where it is widely acknowledged that seed stocks of conventional lines of canola, corn and soy are contaminated with GE.

"To ensure that this does not happen again, the BFA has called on the federal government to immediately halt further seed imports that are deemed to be at risk of GE contamination, pending the introduction of a GE screening program. Seeds to be considered for immediate action include the widespread GE crops of North America such as canola, soy, corn, potato, sugarbeet and cotton.

"It is highly likely that contaminated canola seed was sold to farmers last year, then planted and harvested, and therefore it is reasonable to assume that farmers may have planted GE contaminated seed again this year.

"If GE contaminated seed is located that has been planted this year or previously, then a traceback to the farms must be undertaken to ensure that those crops in the ground are destroyed before harvest this year. In some cases wheat may be planted in rotation following contaminated canola crops, and the admix in the wheat harvested may contain GE canola contamination.

"Australia cannot risk its international GE-free premium markets for all our grains, not just canola, through this GE contamination event. Similar events in Europe have resulted in clean-up operations at the expense of seed companies."

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