Monsanto Fire Sale on GM Roundup Ready canola seed

22 April 2012

Farmers and shoppers reject Monsanto's herbicide tolerant genetically manipulated (GM) canola so emphatically that the company now gives away GM canola seed in a desperate bid for farmers to grow it. In NSW the company promises to limit direct farmer losses to only $10/tonne and in WA it offers a one for three freebie to sweeten its deal.

"Global crop seed and agrichemical giant Monsanto is scrambling to find a market for its genetically manipulated (GM) seed that few will grow and no-one wants to eat," says Gene Ethics Director, Bob Phelps.

"Farmers know the economics of GM canola do not add up.

"Many who tried out the GM crop in previous years have decided to grow other more profitable and productive varieties instead.

"Grain traders have been paying up to $50/tonne premium in response to strong local and overseas demand for GM-free grain and, for instance, Viterra's quote for April 19 is $30 per tonne discount for GM canola at its Victorian silos. Values are similar or higher throughout the country.

"In response to farmers reluctance to buy, Monsanto has offered NSW growers a price support that guarantees they will receive a maximum of $10/tonne less for GM, provided they forward sell their crop and deliver the GM canola harvest to Cargill in Newcastle.

"We question whether such a price support scheme that encourages farmers to 'fix the price' is legal under ACCC rules against price fixing," he says.

"A Birchip Cropping Group report has also found that GM canola seed yields no more than top alternative varieties and has similar oil content.

"Birchip's gross margin analysis {reported in the Australian Farm Journal April 2012, Pp 20 & 21} also found that due to GM's sale price discount, GM seed royalties, brand-name chemicals required to be used, and extra transport costs to distant silos, GM canola is over $150 per hectare less profitable than other canola options.

“Most farmers who tried Roundup tolerant GM canola, so they could spray the weed killer more often and at higher doses without harming their plants, will not grow it again because it is a profit gouger.

"Monsanto's WA advertisement does not even disclose that its offer is for free GM seed, describing it as an offer for FREE BAGS of hybrid canola seed.

"This misleading description should also interest the ACCC which seeks to prevent deceptive ads.

"The Terms and Conditions of the one for three offer attached to this email include: 'Free bag only applies to the seed component supplied by Canola Breeders and does not include stewardship fees on the seed as applied by Monsanto. Other applicable fees are the responsibility of and payable by the grower on the free bag/s.' See:

"Like Monsanto promises for the performance of its GM seed, this offer is not what it seems and should be refused by all sensible farmers," Mr Phelps concludes.

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