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Moe Parr addresses farmers in Bribaree, NSW
Moe Parr addresses farmers in Bribaree, NSW
Australian farmers learn from North American experience with GE crops

It was the perfect end to a month long tour of the canola growing regions by North American farmers Moe Parr and Ross Murray. Twenty-five local farmers crowded into the farm supplies shop in the tiny village of Bribaree near Young, in New South Wales, to hear about Moe and Ross’s experiences with genetically engineered (GE) crops.

For the last month Moe and Ross travelled round Australia talking to farmers at rural forums throughout Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales. The forums were well attended; and farmers were keen to learn about the decade long experience of North American farmers with GE crops.

Forums were also held in each of the State Parliaments. These were filled to capacity and an overflow session had to be held in the Victorian Parliament, such was the interest in Moe and Ross’s stories. Representatives of all the major political parties attended these forums, demonstrating widespread concern within the political community about the issues raised by Moe and Ross.

Sitting on bags of fertiliser, and sacks of grain, farmers at the Bribaree forum listened with concern as Ross described how the introduction of GE canola to Canada removed choice for non-GE farmers, due to contamination problems. Ninety per cent of certified non-GE seed in Canada is now contaminated with GE material.

The impromptu forum was arranged at a day’s notice by local farmer David Noakes - a member of the New South Wales Farmer’s Association – who had attended the farmers forum in Cootamundra a few days before. At the Cootamundra forum Noakes accused the NSW Farmer’s Association of “sitting on their hands” and failing to protect the interests of non-GE farmers. NSW Farmer’s Association Grains Committee spokesman Hugh Roberts, who was also at the forum, failed to respond to these accusations.

At its Annual General Meeting last year the NSW Farmers' Association passed a motion to call on State and Federal governments to protect non-GE canola growers from the financial risks of GE production on a commercial scale. Last year Hugh Roberts stated on ABC radio that the association would also “produce papers on the issues, particularly liability, segregation of the crop and how it is going to be handled.” Farmers are angry that GE canola has been released in NSW despite none of these issues having been resolved and there being no protection in place for non-GE farmers.

Noakes believes that strict liability legislation should be introduced to protect non-GE farmers from any economic losses associated with the introduction of GE canola.

Watch a video about how Moe Parr got sued by Monsanto

Find out why Ross Murray stopped growing GE canola

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