GM contamination unleashes emotional community debate

Press release - 29 November, 2011
Tuesday, 29th November, 2011: Nationals and Labor politicians joined GM and non-GM farmers at a community meeting in Cunderdin last night following confirmation of GM contamination at a local farm.

Jodi and Ian James confirmed they found positive GM canola test results up to 20 metres into their paddock after a deluge washed GM canola seeds from the neighbours’ paddock onto their farm.
 
“I don’t want GM on my farm, but I’m not being given a choice,” said Jodi James. “We might have to stop growing canola altogether if we can’t grow it without GM contamination,” she said.
 
The community meeting was well attended by both farmers and politicians, including local farmer and Nationals Member for the Agricultural Region Phillip Gardiner, and Shadow Agricultural Minister, Mick Murray.
 
Speaking at the meeting, Phillip Gardiner said: “Good neighbours are only as good as their fences.”
 
“I would be worried as a non-GM canola grower if I didn’t know my neighbour was a growing GM canola. He or she should just come and tell me that they are growing GM canola in a paddock adjacent to mine so we can talk the risks through and reach an accommodation.”
 
Mr James agreed that good neighbourly communication was very important, but that communication can break down if laws aren’t put in place.
 
“From my experience in life something always goes wrong, and I prepare for that,” said Mr. James. “The problem is that the WA Government didn’t prepare for GM canola contamination and the impact it is having on farmers and the community.”
 
Greenpeace Sustainable Agriculture campaigner Laura Kelly said: “The government knew there would be issues of contamination when it lifted the GM canola moratorium and that non-GM farmers would wear all of the costs, but they did nothing to protect farmers. If the WA government wants to stop farmer vs. farmer conflict, and both GM and non-GM farmers being dragged through the courts, they need to introduce proper farmer protection legislation.”
 
Ian and Jodi James are requesting that the department of agriculture conduct more thorough testing. The Department initially told them there was ‘no need for concern’, and that they had found no GM canola on their property.
 
For more interviews, photos or more information, contact:
Elsa Evers, Greenpeace Media Advisor, 0438 204 041
Ian James, Canola Farmer, 0429 303 131

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