Wild weather whips up seeds of dissent

Feature Story - 18 November, 2011
Once again it has been proven how risky it is to grow genetically modified (GM) crops. And once again it is an innocent farmer who stands to pay the price.

The road dividing Ian James's property and his neighbourThis time it is Ian James, a non-GM farmer from Cunderdin, Western Australia. Ian is fearful that his land has become contaminated after a recent thunderstorm washed tonnes of his neighbour’s GM canola crop onto his farm.

GM contamination fears

Testing is now underway and if it is found to be contaminated, Ian could potentially lose his contract that requires him to provide GM-free canola. There is nothing in place that will protect Ian and his loss of income if this occurs.

Ian’s case is not an isolated incident. It adds to a growing list of contamination cases in Australia that have been devastating and dividing rural communities (view contamination map). Another WA farmer Steve Marsh lost his organic accreditation earlier this year after his neighbour’s GM canola seed blew onto his property. Steve, with little choice, is suing his neighbour for the damages incurred.

Who pays the price?

This is simply not fair. Innocent farmers are losing their livelihoods. Neighbours are forced to sue each other and communities are being torn apart. Meanwhile GM companies walk away with millions knowing very well that containing GM crops is impossible.

Who is responsible?

The West Australian Government made a reckless decision to allow GM crops without being able to guarantee containment – and also without any legislation in place that protects farmers suffering the consequences. It’s time for that to change.

The need for a Farmer Protection law

Greenpeace is lobbying the WA Government to introduce Farmers Protection Legislation. The proposal is for GM companies to pay into a fund managed by the government that would compensate farmers whose land is contaminated. It will protect both GM and non-GM growers and will put the responsibility of managing risk back where it should belong – on to GM companies. Find out more.

Is your farm at risk?

From next week, Greenpeace will begin distributing free test kits to farmers who want to learn how to test for GM contamination on their land. If you are a farmer and would like to receive a GM test-kit, please contact us by emailing

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