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US seed cleaner Moe Parr (left) and Canadian farmer Ross Murray (right) have been speaking with Australian farmers about GE crops.
US seed cleaner Moe Parr (left) and Canadian farmer Ross Murray (right) have been speaking with Australian farmers about GE crops.
GE crop threat becomes clearer to Australian farmers

Moe and Ross were speaking with farmers and politicians across the canola-growing states of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales. Australian farmers heard their experiences with genetically engineered (GE) crops in North America. Each rural forum attracted around 50 farmers, and the sessions in each state Parliament were filled to capacity.

Farmers and politicians in each state are now a lot clearer about the threat of GE crops.

After hearing accounts from Moe and Ross, Australian farmers expressed concern about the inevitable contamination of conventional canola with GE material and the increased control of the food chain by large agri-business multinationals like Monsanto.

Meet Moe Parr

Moe Parr, a seed cleaner from Indiana in the United States, was sued by Monsanto in 2007 for allegedly “aiding”, “abetting” and “encouraging” GE soy farmers to break the patent law by saving their own seed.

Despite his innocence, Moe was unable to afford the legal fees to defend himself and was forced to settle out of court. As part of the settlement, he now has to have each lot of seed he cleans tested for GE contamination and send the results to Monsanto.

“In effect, I have become an unpaid enforcement officer for Monsanto,” says Moe. “Because of GE contamination and the monopoly control of seeds by agri-business companies, in the United States it is nearly impossible to go back.”

» Video: Listen to Moe talk about his experiences with Monsanto

GE crops undermine farmer choice

Since the introduction of GE crops in the United States, Monsanto has sued around 500 farmers a year for patent infringement, the majority of whom have been forced to settle out of court. GE crops have also led to the widespread contamination of conventional crops in North America. In Canada, 90% of non-GE certified canola seed is contaminated with GE material.

» Video: Why Canadian farmer Ross Murray stopped growing GE canola

By now, a number of states in the US have introduced laws to protect farmers from companies like Monsanto in cases of accidental contamination. Last September, the state of California passed legislation protecting farmers from being sued by large agri-business corporations like Monsanto for accidental GE contamination.

Until now, the majority of GE crops have been confined to the Americas. In order to capture the Australian market, multinational seed company Monsanto is now investing millions in promoting GE crops through industry front groups such as Agrifood Awareness.

Because segregation is impossible and contamination inevitable wherever GE crops are grown, their introduction will remove choice for both farmers and consumers. Strict liability legislation is needed to hold companies like Monsanto accountable for any contamination that does occur.

How you can help Australian farmers stay GE-free

You can support Australian farmers who do not want to grow GE crops by asking state politicians to either stay GE-free or introduce a moratorium. You can also ask them to introduce strict liability legislation that holds companies like Monsanto accountable for any contamination.

» Email the relevant federal or state politician

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