Truck fire spills GM canola at Williams, WA11 August 2011
Several tonnes of genetically manipulated (GM) canola were spilled at Williams WA, on Tuesday night. A fire split the truck trailer and GM canola seed spilled along the roadway and verges.
The Albany Highway for several kilometers needs quarantining, cleanup and monitoring for at least the next decade but the highway was reopened at 5am yesterday morning, explains Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps.
"No effective cleanup could have been done in the dark and GM canola contamination is now likely over large areas from Perth to Albany.
"GM canola seed will be picked up and spread by other vehicles, to germinate and contaminate the surrounding countryside for up to 16 years according to Gene Technology Regulator reports.
"The Tasmanian government is still monitoring and cleaning up GM contamination at 50 sites where GM canola trials were planted in 1998."
Williams grain grower Janette Liddelow is calling on the WA Government and Agriculture Minister Terry Redman to immediately implement emergency spillage procedures including stringent quarantine, cleanup and long-term monitoring.
"The GM giant Monsanto owns the GM canola seed, so it must accept responsibility for this contamination and bear the costs of thorough, long-term remediation," she says.
"This GM canola spill is our worst nightmare come true, after only one season of the crop being grown in WA.
"A majority of farmers around Williams backed GM-free farming and our Shire Council asked the state government not to lift the ban on GM canola, but they ignored us.
"A dozen growers who farm 40,000 hectares here in this area asked the state government to remove the exemption from the law that allows GM canola to be grown here but Agriculture Minister Redman refused our request.
"We wanted our district declared a GM-free zone but he refused, on the grounds that it was too costly, time consuming and complicated to administer.
"And again, we also recently asked to be put on the new Sensitive Sites Register that the Agriculture Department established as a sop to widespread grower demands for the protection of non-GM canola production and our premiums of up to $50/tonne being paid for GM-free product.
"We urgently need Farmer Protection laws, paid for by a levy on GM seed sales, that would provide a fund to automatically pay the extra costs and losses that GM canola has brought to our farming communites," Ms Liddelow concludes.