GM crop resists poison, breaks fence

November 7, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Australian Associated Press, 11/06/03: TRIALS of the nation's first commercial genetically modified food crop have been found to be in breach of their licence conditions.

The Network of Concerned Farmers today released internal NSW Agriculture documents showing concerns over the trials of GM canola near the city of Wagga Wagga.

The documents show the canola, created by BayerCropscience to be resistant to a new type of herbicide, had spread from its small trial plot into a neighbouring wheat field.

Despite efforts to poison and then slash the plants they survived to the stage that they flowered, putting them in breach of their growing licence conditions.

NSW, along with most other states, has a moratorium on GM food crops but is allowing trials such as that staged at Wagga.

But both Bayer and Monsanto, which is waiting on final federal approval for its own GM canola, have sought to plant up to 5000 hectares of the new plants in NSW as trials next year.

Network national spokeswoman Julie Newman said the failure of the Wagga trial cast doubt over the plans for a 5000 hectare trial.

"If the GM industry can't even control a small strictly managed trial plot under one hectare, how do they expect to control 5000 hectares of GM canola spread over 60 to 100 sites throughout NSW?" she said.

"The obvious difficulty that BayerCropscience have had in managing this trial does not inspire confidence within the farming community."

Mrs Newman said the Wagga trial showed how difficult it would be stop contamination of traditional crops by GM crops.

"The difficulty in managing the trials shows just how hard it is to remove canola from wheat, and shows how much work neighbouring farmers will have to do to try to make sure their crops don't get contaminated," she said.

Source: http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,7784433%255E2,00.html