Going once… Going twice... SOLD to the chemical company who wants to control our food supply!
This morning, outside an agricultural conference in east Perth, the Western Australian Government was auctioning off state farms to multinational chemical companies. What an outrage!
Although the auction was actually a mock one held by Greenpeace, it highlighted the outrageous situation where the WA Government is selling off Aussie farms and agreeing to trials of genetically modified (GM) wheat.
Farmers and WA communities are paying the price for this risky GM experiment. It's almost a case of 'going, going, gone'. Many farmers are concerned about the level of control being handed to the chemical companies holding GM seed patents, yet the WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman is advertising the state as a global testing ground for these contentious crops.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Mick Murray, believes there are serious questions about GM and corporate control of WA agriculture. "The question with GM patents is who owns the farm? GM licence agreements mean Monsanto still has rights to inspect a farmer's land two years after they sell it." WA's GM experiment
Western Australia is the only place in the world, outside of the US, holding trials of GM wheat. In August 2010, the WA Government sold 20% of the state's wheat breeding company to US chemical giant, Monsanto, to develop further GM strains.
Key export markets such as in Europe have strict laws to stop its import. Non-GM canola is currently fetching $50 more per tonne than GM.
Farmers not protected
The WA Government lifted the ban on GM crops last year despite a majority of public submissions calling to keep the risky crop out of the state. It also has no legislation to protect conventional farmers if their crops become GM contaminated.
Farmer from Williams, Janette Liddlelow says "the government has failed to introduce measures to protect normal farms like ours from GM seed that blows over fence or contaminates our crop through the water supply. There has already been one devastating case of cross-contamination, and the government response was nothing more than a statement suggesting we work out conflicts with neighbours under common law."
Call to Action
It's time the WA Government stops prioritising the interests of Monsanto and other chemical companies over the farmers that grow the safe healthy food we've always known. Greenpeace is calling for the introduction of farmer protection legislation in states across Australia and an end to the proliferation of GM crops.
The WANTFA "Weighing up the Options" conference is being held today at the Burswood on Swan Reception Centre in partnership with chemical companies, Bayer and Syngenta.