Canola segregation a myth: GM costs all growers a packet
Gene Ethics Media Release : Monday December 7, 2015
Revelations in the WA Parliament (see below) confirm that GM canola threatens
premium overseas markets. GM-free canola is often co-mingled with GM, to remove
the possibility of GM contamination that would destroy GM-free markets. GM-free
canola growers are forced to subsidise those few who grow GM.
This hits the income of all growers, most of whom remain GM-free, and makes GM
canola's uptake appear bigger than it is. Organic certifiers are vilified and ridiculed
for their zero tolerance for GM contamination, yet CBH applies the same zero
Darren West MLC made a statement to the WA Legislative Council on December 2
(uncorrected transcript below) about his personal experience of delivering a truckload of
non-GM canola to CBH's Avon Co-operative Bulk Handling receival silo.
As a result of the experience he concluded that there is actually zero tolerance for GM
canola in premium exports, not the 0.9 per cent tolerance that the GM industry constantly
claims. He calculates that the frequent failure of CBH's segregation systems creates
losses to the grains industry that: "must run into hundreds of thousands of dollars", spread
across the income of all grain growers.
He found that premium overseas markets have such a strict zero tolerance for GM canola
that CBH also has: “zero tolerance for contamination by GM canola in our canola stacks. If
there is any risk at all that there could be any GM in a load of non-GM canola, that load
must be tipped onto the GM stack and sold overseas at a $58/tonne discount to the
industry.” All growers meet a share of the cost.
At the silo Mr West's non-GM canola was down-graded as he was told: “one of the
samplers has accidently thrown a bucket of GM canola on top of your load of non-GM
canola.” He proposed to: “remove the GM canola from the top of my load of non-GM
canola, because it was very easy to see as it was a very different colour,” but was told to
tip the load into the GM stack anyway.
He was still paid the $58/tonne premium for the truckload of non-GM canola at an
estimated cost to Western Australian growers of $1,334.
And if a truck with two trailers arrives at a CBH receival site, with one trailer containing GM
canola and the other non-GM canola, both trailers must be tipped into the GM pile. Again,
the grower is paid the $58/tonne premium for the non-GM canola.
Darren West: 08 9964 1001 Email: [email protected]
Extract from West Australian Hansard 2/12/15 Legislative Council:
CONTAMINATED NON-GENETICALLY MODIFIED CANOLA - RECEIVAL
HON DARREN WEST (Agricultural) [6.22 pm]: As members know, I really enjoy getting back to the farm on
weekends and being able to get my hand back into the industry that I came here from-that is, agriculture. I
want to tell members a little bit of a story about what happened to me last Saturday afternoon. I arrived at the
paddock where our staff were harvesting some canola and I asked what I could do. It was suggested that I
jump into our truck and take a load of canola to the local bin in Northam. I did this happily, because it is good
to get back out amongst the farmers again and talk about the things we like to talk about.
As it had been my first opportunity to deliver a load of grain this year, I drove into the Avon Co-operative Bulk
Handling receival site. There are two receival huts. I turned on to the more southern one, as I normally do,
and I had my load of canola sampled and I put my little book up explaining everything that was in the back of
the truck. The sample was taken and when I went into the sample hut I was asked if this was genetically
modified or non-GM canola. As members know, we do not grow any GM canola on our property. I was then
told that I would have to go to the other side of the road because there are two separate GM and non-GM
testing stations, which is a good idea.
I went to the other side of the road to be told, "Sorry to do this to you, but you are going to have to go
back where you came from because one of the samplers has accidently thrown a bucket of GM
canola on top of your load of non-GM canola." I now had this contaminated load of canola. I was very
unhappy about that and I asked the manager of the Avon receival site whether we could remove the
GM canola from the top of my load of non-GM canola, because it was very easy to see; it was a very
different colour. He informed me, "Don't worry, you will still be paid the price for non-GM canola"-
which has a $58 premium over GM canola-"but you will have to tip that load of GM canola into the
GM stack, because we have zero tolerance for contamination by GM canola in our canola stacks."
I was a little surprised at this and I asked how often it happened, and it is quite a common occurrence. If
there is any risk at all that there could be any GM canola in a load of non-GM canola, that load must
be tipped onto the GM stack and sold overseas at a $58 discount to the industry.
Because I was not satisfied, I then asked to speak to the quality controller, who was the next person in the
command chain, who told me that the markets that we service overseas have a strict zero tolerance for
contaminated GM canola. I calculated that the downgrade of my truckload to the growers of Western
Australia was $1 334. I was also informed that if a truck with two trailers arrives at a Co-operative Bulk
Handling Ltd receival site, with one trailer containing GM canola and the other trailer containing non-
GM canola, both those trailers must be tipped into the GM pile. It was conceded that thousands, if not
tens of thousands, of tonnes of non-GM canola from across the state are delivered into the GM pile.
The grower concerned still gets paid the premium for non-GM canola. As anyone who has had anything
to do with agriculture knows, farmers pay for everything. The loss to the industry, which will be spread
across all the farmers, must run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. The questions I raised with
CBH continue. There is not a 0.9 per cent tolerance in the CBH system, as is constantly touted by
people in the GM industry. There is actually a zero tolerance. CBH is totally risk averse to getting any
GM seeds in the non-GM canola because that is what our market dictates. There is a very real threat that we
could lose markets as a result of this contamination. That was quite alarming to me. I begrudgingly delivered
the load of non-GM canola onto the GM stack because one bucket-five kilos in a 23-tonne load of canolawas
enough for CBH to wish to segregate that canola into the GM stack.
PO Box 400,
Emerald Vic 3782
Tel: 03 5968 2996
Mob: 0449 769 066
Email: [email protected]