A WESTERN Victorian farmer has launched a petition on popular social activism website change.org, 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.”