Draper calls for GM trial caution

AUSTRALIA’S largest genetically modified food producer is playing down the significance of crops found to be contaminated.

Reports last week said canola seeds to be exported to Japan had been contaminated, prompting opponents of GM crops to warn of future reduced sales for farmers who are GM free.

Bayer Crop Science spokeswoman Susie O’Neill said it was not responsible for the contamination of pure grains and that the level of contamination was insignificant.

“It’s about 10 times the level that is normally reportable for grains, and about 100 times below the level that is required for food labelling generally for GMO products here in Australia,” Ms O’Neill said.

“So it is a minuscule amount that has been detected.”

Ms O’Neill said it was unlikely the GM material originated from one of Bayer’s sites.

“This particular event has not been grown in a trial in Victoria since 1996 and it was an extremely small trial, less than one hectare, done under very stringent conditions,” she said.

The Member for Tamworth, Peter Draper, said the contamination of Victorian canola seeds with genetically modified material should send a clear message to the NSW Government to maintain extreme caution in the trialling of GM food crops in NSW. “While I support GM technology in textile and fibre crops, I have voiced strong opposition to its use in the production of food crops, such as canola and soya beans, in the absence of conclusive proof they are safe to consume,” Mr Draper said.

“I also believe its potential to compromise export markets makes experimenting with research trials a risk simply not worth taking.

“I maintain my opposition to the introduction of trials of GM canola in NSW due to the danger of cross contamination with traditional crops. I feel it is impossible to guarantee neighbouring crops will not be affected and damage to the industry’s clean green image would be irreversible.”

He said the former Parry Shire Council took an early stand against the technology promoting the area as being GM-free due to the fact that export markets demanded a GM-free product.

“I accept the technology can be of great benefit in textile crops, such as cotton, where genetic modification of the plant makes it resistant to pests, reducing dependence on chemicals.”

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