Wimmera farmers need to be protected from Gm contamination: Bob Mackley

Bob Mackley with GM canola seeds in 2011. Picture: AMY PYSDEN

Bob Mackley with GM canola seeds in 2011. Picture: AMY PYSDEN

DUCHEMBEGARRA farmer Bob Mackley is calling for a protection fund to compensate landholders for any contamination from genetically modified crops.

It comes after Western Australia farmers Steve Marsh lost his court case against a neighbour who grew genetically modified food.

Steve Marsh had his non-GM crop genetically contaminated from his neighbour's GM canola crop.

He claimed it cost him his right to produce GM-free food.

The case was heard in the WA Supreme Court.

Mr Mackley, who is also a member of the Network of Concern Farmers, said the government had got it wrong in saying common law would resolve the economic losses caused by GM contamination.

"We propose a Farmer Protection Fund to compensate landholders for any GM contamination," Mr Mackley said.

"The fund could be created from a levy on all GM canola seed sold.

"Last season Monsanto claims it sold 550,000 kilograms of seed.

"It could have contributed a considerable amount to the fund, with a levy of, for example, 50 cents a kilogram of seed sold.

"The compensation fund would avoid the costs and bitterness of court cases.

"We must put responsibility where it belongs - on the GM seed owners - Monsanto and Bayer.

"The GM industry must pay for its own contamination."

The Greens have introduced a private members bill into the South Australian upper house to protect farmers from GM contamination.

The South Australian Government has banned GM crops from commercial release until 2019.

The Greens' legislation would protect SA farmers from cross-border contamination from Victorian GM canola.

Mr Mackley said the state and federal governments should move ahead with farmer protection legislation, especially in regards to Mr Marsh.

"Steve has stood up for non-GM farmers everywhere by refusing to accept economic loss caused by GM," he said.

"He has our full support.

"We have always said neither the non-GM farmer, nor the GM farmer should be individually liable for economic loss, it should stand squarely at the feet of the patent owner."

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