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1. Key issues
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 Agronomics and Economics of GM canola

2. GM crops banned
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3. Market issues
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Canola
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Coexistence & Segregation
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Consumer concerns
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Contamination
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Corporate control
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 In (Seed) Bed Together
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 Made by Monsanto

Costs and liabilities
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Economics
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Farmer attitudes
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GM / Non-GM difference
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GM canola
 Will GM canola yield more in Australia?
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GM crops
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GM crops experience
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GM wheat
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Honey issues
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How trustworthy is decision-making?
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Insurance
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International Protocols
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Legal Issues
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 Liability and GM crops
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Legislation & Regulation
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Organics
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Trials
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17 June 2005

The impact of GM contamination

News stories regarding the impact of GM crops on the honey industry:

02 March 2005

Determination of canola pollen content in honey

- The percentage of canola pollen by weight in Australian canola honey ranged from 0.15% to 0.443% with a mean of 0.1951% + 0012. The two GM canola honey samples sourced from Canada contained 0.192% and 0.236% by weight

Implications: This study has determined that the canola pollen content of canola honey is significantly less than 1% by weight of honey from which it originates. As such, honey produced from GM canola crops will not need to be labelled as a GM food.

Network note: In order to label honey as "Non-GM" or "GM-free" there must be NO trace of GM pollen present.

Determination of pollen content of canola (Brassica napus) honey

Dr M (Michael) Hornitzky Ph: (02) 46406311 

michael.hornitzky@agric.nsw.gov.au
NSW Agriculture
Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute
PMB 8 Camden NSW 2570  



Objectives: To determine the pollen content, by weight, in canola honey

Background: Genetically modified (GM) varieties of canola (Brassica napus) have been developed and introduced into various countries including Canada and Australia although GM canola has not yet been released commercially in Australia. In the event that it is commercially produced in Australia beekeepers would place bees on these crops for pollination purposes and would be likely to produce honey in the process. Pollen represents the most likely source of transgene DNA and novel proteins in bee products. It is also commonly present in the most widely-consumed product, honey. In Australia mandatory labelling of GM foods, where introduced DNA or protein is present in the final food, came into effect on 8th December 2001. Food or ingredients labelled GM either contain new genetic material or protein as a result of modification. A 1% threshold, where labelling is not required, exists for the unintended presence of GM material in non-GM foods. This is a more stringent requirement than if honey containing up to 1% of the GM material itself was permitted, since transgene DNA or novel protein will comprise only a fraction of the weight of a GM pollen grain. Honey, which contains more than 1% of a genetically modified component must be labelled as being genetically modified. This may have an impact on the sales potential for such honey and also influence the export potential of honey from this crop

Methodology: Thirty two canola honey samples from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and two GM canola honey samples sourced from Canada were used in this study. There is no evidence to indicate that the pollen content of non-GM canola pollen is any different from GM canola hence non-GM canola honey was also used in this study. The percentage of pollen by weight was determined using the number of pollen grains detected in 10 ml of canola honey and the average calculated weight of a canola pollen grain

Progress: Outcomes: The percentage of canola pollen by weight in Australian canola honey ranged from 0.15% to 0.443% with a mean of 0.1951% + 0012. The two GM canola honey samples sourced from Canada contained 0.192% and 0.236% by weight

Implications: This study has determined that the canola pollen content of canola honey is significantly less than 1% by weight of honey from which it originates. As such, honey produced from GM canola crops will not need to be labelled as a GM food.

Sponsors: RIRDC: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Information supplied by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation on January 2005.

15 June 2005

Coexistence plans blown away by pollen drift

- In Canada, a leading cultivator of GM crops, sales of honey have plummeted by 50% amid concern that the integrity of the product has been compromised.

GM crop taints honey two miles away, test reveals

The Sunday Times, September 15, 2002 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-416027,00.html [you have to register for Times' sites]

EVIDENCE that genetically modified (GM) crops can contaminate food supplies for miles around has been revealed in independent tests commissioned by The Sunday Times.

The tests found alien GM material in honey from beehives two miles from a site where GM crops were being grown under government supervision. It is believed to have been carried there by bees gathering pollen in the GM test sites.

The disclosure, showing that GM organisms can enter the food chain without consumers — or even farmers — knowing they are present, will undermine assurances by Tony Blair and ministers that such crops can be tested in Britain without contaminating the food chain.

The test results come as ministers, under pressure from the American agrochemical lobby, mount a huge consultation exercise to persuade the public of the virtues of GM foods. They have previously given assurances that consumers “are not being used as guinea pigs”.

The GM material was found in honey sold from farmer David Rolfe’s hives at Newport-on-Tay in Fife, almost two miles from one of 18 sites holding trials of GM oil-seed rape.

A test carried out by GeneScan, a respected independent laboratory in Bremen, Germany, checked for traces of an NOS terminator, one of four modified genes which make the crop resistant to pesticides. This proved positive.

A second test confirmed that GM material in the honey could have come only from oil- seed rape grown at Wester Friarton, in Newport-on-Tay, by Aventis, one of the world’s biggest biotechnology firms. The fact that the GM material travelled such a distance makes a mockery of the government’s 50m-200m crop-free “buffer” zones that were created around GM sites to protect neighbouring farms. Critics have claimed that the GM crop trial sites are too close to other farms. America has buffer zones of up to 400m, Canada up to 800m, and the European Union recommends a 5km (three-mile) zone for GM oilseed rape.

When Rolfe first raised his concerns, government officials said that although it was not possible to rule out cross-pollination, they did not believe it should be “a source of concern”.

“I’m very angry and disappointed,” Rolfe said last week. “I feel I’ve been denied the right and freedom to eat my own GM-free produce. Now we can’t eat the honey or sell it.”

This weekend Defra, the ministry responsible for the crop trials, said: “We have not seen the results of the study but will treat any such findings extremely seriously.”

In the case of GM rape, like most GM products, there is no evidence that contamination poses a health risk. Concern centres on maintaining the integrity of traditionally produced products.

Tim Lang, professor of food policy at Thames Valley University, said: “The early assurances from the industry and the government that a buffer zone would allow safety and choice for consumers are falling apart. It raises environmental health worries, and what we don’t yet know is whether these warnings will translate into a risk to human health.”

Britain has imposed a moratorium on the widespread planting of GM crops until it has analysed the impact of GM crop trials at 18 farm-scale sites around Britain.

However, The Sunday Times’s tests confirm earlier work that was carried by Friends of the Earth, the environmental group, and will increase pressure on the government to scale down its support for the GM industry.

It will also come as a personal setback to Blair, who is determined that British companies will win a share of the potentially lucrative bioscience industry. In May the prime minister attacked GM protesters as part of an “anti-science fashion” in Britain.

The tests will bring pressure on Aventis, which was accused of a “serious breach” of regulations earlier this year after GM trials in 12 sites were contaminated with antibiotic genes. These are controversial because of the danger of gene transfer to bacteria in animals and humans, who could become immune to common life- saving antibiotics.

While the government tends to support the GM lobby, food retailers have been more cautious. The big supermarkets insist that such products are properly labelled and refuse to take honey from within six miles of UK test sites.

In Canada, a leading cultivator of GM crops, sales of honey have plummeted by 50% amid concern that the integrity of the product has been compromised.

A spokesmen for Aventis said: “We would be very interested in looking at both the origin of the honey sample and how the tests were carried out. We would like to look at this further

Source: Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin),
http://www.ngin.org.uk
---

11 April 2005

Farmers and beekeeper unrest regarding SA trials.

- ...when they take a canola crop to the silos they have to declare the crop to be GM free and will have no indication where these trials are, but says around fifty tonnes of seed can come off a ten hectare trial site. Edwards asks what will Bayer be doing with such a commercial amount and the commercial interests should be responsible for containment and not have neighbour against neighbour in any contamination.

ABC South East SA (Mt Gambier)
Rural Report - 04/04/2005 - 06:49 AM
David Claughton
Station Ph: 08 8724 1011

Karen Hunt interviews Jo Edwards, Wolseley/Bordertown Farmer discussing the concerns being expressed by residents in the Tatiara district over plans by Bayer CropScience to plant a trial crop of around ten hectares in the district. Edwards she wrote a letter of concern to the Border Chronicle about the issue of GM crops saying when they take a canola crop to the silos they have to declare the crop to be GM free and will have no indication where these trials are, but says around fifty tonnes of seed can come off a ten hectare trial site. Edwards asks what will Bayer be doing with such a commercial amount and the commercial interests should be responsible for containment and not have neighbour against neighbour in any contamination.

Interviewees: Jo Edwards, Wolseley/Bordertown Farmer
Duration: 4:00

ABC South East SA (Mt Gambier)
Rural Report - 04/04/2005 - 06:42 AM
David Claughton
Station Ph: 08 8724 1011

Karen Hunt interviews Susie O'Neil, Bayer CropScience discussing the concerns being expressed by residents in the Tatiara district over plans by the company to plant a trial crop of around ten hectares in the district and the decision to plant a trial crop there will be made before the canola planting season despite the fact a presentation has been made to Tatiara District Council on the plan. O'Neil says it is not a discussion about whether GM canola crops should be commercialised, it is about conducting a small scale crop trial of a highly regulated and monitored crop trial which is quite different to a commercial scale crop. O'Neil states there are several landholders and growers who are interested in being a part of the crop trials and this trial is to monitor the yield of oil and flower growths, stating Bayer CropScience have been consulting and working with honey bee interests, who are happy to be part of the trial and says there is no risk to commercial agricultural pursuits.

Interviewees: Susie O'Neil, Bayer CropScience
Duration: 7:00

-----

"OK, we know that cross-pollination will occur but we’ve got thirty years of experience to say we know how far pollen will travel. And therefore what we’ve done is we’ll grow a GM crop at a distance away from a non-GM crop, so the people that want non-GM can buy non-GM, and the people that want GM can buy GM.  The two will not get mixed up. Everybody will have the right to choose." - Dr Paul Rylott, Seed Manager for AVENTIS, speaking on ‘Matter of Fact’, BBC2, 12 October 2000 ---

----

07 January 2004

Research reveals bees travel 2km from Australian canola crops

- Researchers from the Australian Weed Management Co-operative Research Centre and Adelaide University have, according to this story, found that honeybees can travel up to 2km between canola fields, foraging for fresh pollen, as they chart the risk of cross-pollinating herbicide-resistant genes.

- The most recent experiment found that 6 per cent of the bees caught had moved between canola fields, with 1 per cent travelling up to 2km from the original Roseworthy crop.

To dye for: keeping bees from GM crop
January 6, 2004
The Australian
Rebecca DiGirolamo
Researchers from the Australian Weed Management Co-operative Research Centre and Adelaide University have, according to this story, found that honeybees can travel up to 2km between canola fields, foraging for fresh pollen, as they chart the risk of cross-pollinating herbicide-resistant genes.
Weed Management CRC researcher Jeanine Baker was quoted as saying, "We wanted to see how far bees move between herbicide-resistant canola crops and non-resistant crops to determine their spread of pollen. If bees are moving a lot of pollen between these crops, then we run the risk of transferring herbicide-resistant canola, which is more difficult for farmers to control and which effectively becomes a weed. The unwanted dispersal of herbicide-resistant genes by insects is one of the biggest questions being asked by Australian farmers as we move towards introducing genetically modified crops."
The story says that in Australia, commercial honeybee hives are often placed beside canola fields as a source of nectar for the insects and that for the past two years, the researchers have sprayed thousands of honeybees with florescent yellow and pink paint at an experimental canola farm at Adelaide University's Roseworthy Campus.
Twenty-four hours after spraying, bees in nearby fields are netted and placed under a microscope to detect traces of the dye.
The most recent experiment found that 6 per cent of the bees caught had moved between canola fields, with 1 per cent travelling up to 2km from the original Roseworthy crop.
The bees' flight patterns also showed they wandered further afield when the canola crops did not flower so well.

Source: Agnet

 

 

 


 

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09 November 2009
Industry avoid the truth about GM segregation problems

11 June 2009
Dupont alleges anti-competitive conduct by Monsanto

24 February 2009
Non-GM Farmers to pay for unwanted GM contamination

02 February 2009
Made by Monsanto

01 February 2009
Top 10 Seed and Pesticide companies

29 January 2009
Agronomics and Economics of GM Canola

29 January 2009
Non-GM biotech is the future

26 January 2009
12 Yrs of GM soya in Argentina - disaster for people and environment

19 January 2009
Non-GM seed preferred by farmers but difficult to obtain

16 January 2009
GM Canola a flop

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