A DUCHEMBEGARRA farmer believes Wimmera grain growers are being pressured to stay silent on genetically modified crop contamination.
Bob Mackley’s paddocks were contaminated by a neighbour’s GM canola during the January 2011 floods.
Mr Mackley said other Wimmera farmers’ paddocks had also been contaminated.
“There have been quite a few farms around the Wimmera contaminated, but most people have not said anything and just swallowed it,” he said.
“To some degree it is peer pressure because there is a fear farmers who do speak up might not get a fair hearing.
“That is not going to change any time soon, although people certainly should be able to talk about their points of view without fear.
“Country communities are under enough pressure without this sort of devise issue.”
The comments come after rogue traces of genetically modified canola were discovered on roadside plants near Lubeck on Tuesday.
Mr Mackley said agriculture’s biotech industry was portraying itself as ‘the one sector to save agriculture and feed the world’.
He has called for the Federal Government to tighten labelling laws so consumers know they are buying GM products.
“It has been a one-way trip since it was introduced and we are now in the world of GM foods,” he said.
“Food products derived from GM should be clearly labelled in a way people can easily understand so they can decide whether to buy it.
“Some people don’t want to eat it or feed it to their children but they can’t easily do that because it is not labelled.
“There is certainly more awareness out there now and because the biotech industry isn’t telling us where their products are, the level of trust is diminishing.”
Mr Mackley said GM canola also impacted food producers outside the grain industry.
“Canola is fairly dependant on pollinators – bees – but the quality end of the honey industry, especially in Europe, won’t accept GM products,” he said.
“There is no mechanism for beekeepers to tell where GM canola is so they can’t avoid it and have to take pot luck.”
Mr Mackley spoke about GM crops to the Organic Coalition of Tasmania last week.
The Tasmanian government is reviewing its moratorium on genetically modified organisms in primary production.
The state’s beekeepers have threatened not to pollinate certain vegetables if the ban is lifted.