Farmer launches GM petition

23 Dec, 2013 03:00 AM
There have been many GM contamination cases like mine around the country

A WESTERN Victorian farmer has launched a petition on popular social activism website, calling for the government to introduce checks to prevent unwanted contamination from genetically modified (GM) crops.

Farmer Bob Mackley from Duchembegarra, near Natimuk, said he was motivated to create the petition for several reasons.

He said he had directly suffered as a result of GM material being washed onto his property in January 2011 and had to wear the cost of spraying the GM canola volunteers out.

“There have been many GM contamination cases like mine around the country but there is no system in place to protect us from GM crops,” he said.

Chief executive at biotechnology peak body CropLife, Matthew Cossey, said the issue of "contamination" was not unique to GM.

“Every farmer has a responsibility to take reasonable steps to stop what they do on their farm from affecting their neighbours or public land," Mr Cossey said.

"That applies across the board, none of these issues are unique to GM."

Because these issues are not unique to GM the same common law rules can compensate for damage caused by the unwanted and unreasonable presence of GM crops as for damage caused by any other crop.

But Mr Mackley said the mantra used by the biotechnology regarding growing GM food crops, ‘the right to choose’ applied both ways.

“We should have the right to choose not to grow GM and to be able to market it as such.

“That’s the difference, other weed seeds within the crop don’t incur the cost penalty GM contamination does.”

His message appears to have won over many people, with the petition now signed by over 30,000 people.

“It comes down to not having the proper steps in place when the technology was introduced.

“We were told how wonderful it all would be and a whole bunch of issues were railroaded out the way.

“Whether you believe GM crops are safe to eat or not, the fact of the matter is that some people don’t want to eat GM and they should have the right not to.

“I want to be able to market my grain as non-GM.”

Mr Mackley also said he wanted to see more information in labelling laws.

“I believe not having labelling could hurt entire industries, if people can’t be sure their canola isn’t GM free because there are no labelling restrictions then they might just not buy canola oil at all.”

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Michael B
23/12/2013 9:32:54 AM

Bob, Perhaps you should give David Leyonhjelm a call - he is sure to sign!!!
Bob Phelps
23/12/2013 4:11:55 PM

Industry agrees GM canola contamination is inevitable. But going to court to recover for costs, harm and losses of GM damage is hard as farms & friendships are at risk. Simple Farmer Protection laws could protect all non-GM landholders - organic, conventional & public. A publicly-managed fund, created and topped up with levies on GM seed sales is fair as GM seed owners do not allow their patented GM seed to be replanted & always retain ownership. With a levy on GM seed, automatic GM compensation payouts could be made for all harm from GM seed contamination. Both GM & non-GM growers benefit.
23/12/2013 5:14:25 PM

ALL politicians take heed. Meddle with the voters freedom of choice at your peril. The whole GM bit has been handled VERY badly. It places far too much power in too few people. This looks like going political and will definitely turn round to bite the Nats / Libs. as they seem to be shifting-----just to be different. Wake up Australia--------if work will allow to find the time.
7/01/2014 6:53:53 PM

Time for organic certification to go, we have tolerated their illogical and unscientific standards for too long. We cannot allow what amounts to nothing more than a marketing scheme to prevent agricultural development.
Madeleine Love
24/03/2014 6:42:28 PM

Bob Mackley is exactly right about the industry. I stopped buying canola oil from the moment I learnt there was GM canola and it wouldn't be labelled.
24/03/2014 7:38:16 PM

No great loss for the GM canola industry Madeline, there are plenty of other end users, millions infact, paying top dollar. My GM canola seed arrived today - I love how farmers adopt profitable crops more and more!!


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Hayden , The Nationals have far more influence and longevity than any of the independents or
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I agree that the Nats in eastern Australia have become far too subservient to the Liberal Party.
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Great image, great initiative. The sight of sheep trotting down Savile Row would have stopped