The "Network of Concerned Farmers" is an Australia wide network
of conventional and organic farmers who are concerned about the economic,
environmental and social impacts of genetically modified crops.
Our concerns about GM canola relate to: impact on the non-GM growers, costs
and liability, contamination and loss of markets for all agricultural produce,
herbicide resistance, environmental impacts, patents and corporate control
Our role is to provide independent, practical, detailed and accurate information
to farmers and the broader community on all issues related to GM crops.
The Network aims to protect the rights of farmers to continue to grow and
market uncontaminated crops by ensuring the GM industry is responsible for
containment of their product and all associated costs and liabilities (not
the non-GM grower as proposed). Until legislation adequately protects existing
farmers and sustainability, we will not accept the introduction of GM crops.
The NCF is nationally recognised as a credible voice on GM issues.
Our concerns about GM crops are based on:
Australia has a clean green image which we need to preserve. Many of
our export markets, and much of the domestic market does not want to buy
GM crops and as growers we have both a right and a responsibility to continue
to grow non GM food for our customers.
Costs and Liabilities
In order to market on the preferred non-GM market, the costs and liabilities
are prohibitive. Costs are estimated at 10% of product value or conservatively
$35/tonne. If it is not viable to market as non-GM, we are faced with
a serious economic problem when Australia can only market a portion of
our produce on the GM market
Economics is not considered by legislation as reason for rejection of
GM crops. Decisions regarding industry preparedness and coexistence plans
are dominated by the GM industry themselves and plans are unacceptable
and will not enable coexistence to be possible.
Contamination is considered uncontrollable and if GM crops are introduced,
the non-GM farmers are expected to keep contamination out of their crop.
When unsuccesful, farmers are under risk of being sued under the Trade
Practises Act for delivering a contaminated product, or under Patent Law
for growing a patented crop.
Many of the GM crops that are been developed and that have been commercialised
have been genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant. These crops
will undoubtedly lead to problems of herbicide resistance and to on-farm
We are concerned that there has not been adequate testing of the environmental
impact of GM crops and that due to the crossing of the species boundary
(and crossing genes between kingdoms) GM crops pose risks that are not
As farmers we are concerned about growing safe, healthy food for our
customers. There is still some concern about the safety of GM foods and
this is leading consumers to be cautious about eating them. We need to
grow food that our customers want and that we know is safe.
The system of patents that accompanies some GM crops will undermine the
independence and the rights of farmers and will create increased dependency
on a small number of agribusiness corporations. In Australia there is
concern regarding end-point royalties being used to collect patent royalties
as there is no indication as to what level of contamination triggers royalty
deduction from our payments.
Founding members of the network include:
Juliet McFarlane, Canola, Wheat and sheep farmer, Young, NSW
Arthur Bowman, Canola & Wheat farmer and Grazier, Molong, central
Julie Newman, Grain and Canola grower and Seed Works operator, Newdegate, WA
Nick Kentish, Potato, Cattle, Canola farmer, Mt Gambier, SA
Sam Statham, organic mustard, grape and olive farmer, Canowindra,
Michael Eyres, Wheat farmer, WA
Graham Strong, Canola farmer, Narrandera, NSW
Gavin Dunn, Sheep farmer, Wheat grower and Miller, Clare,
The network is growing every week as more farmers become willing to
speak up in opposition to having GM canola forced into Australia.