Australian GMO ruling threatens organic trade

A ruling this week on GMO cross contamination of crops this week in Australia could change its organic status.

Australia does not currently allow any trace of GMOs in its organic produce, it if is to be labelled organic. However, this week an Australian organic farmer lost his court case for damages after GM canola seed blew into his crop, causing him to lose his organic license.

The ruling may mean that Australian’s zero-tolerence on GMOs may be watered down, to accommodate such occurrences. The Organic Federation of Australia said it is deeply concerned for the future of the organics industry after the ruling.

Australia now has no legal protections in place for organic farmers whose crops are contaminated with GM seeds, it said, which puts many farmers at risk whose properties border other farms growing GM crops.

This is contrary to laws already in place which protect farmers from contaminating sprays from neighbouring farms, it says. “This ruling will have a flow on effect. If farmers can easily lose their organic status from GM contamination from neighbouring properties, the economic costs for the industry could be catastrophic. For every farmer who loses his organic certification, the lost business will be crippling.”

It said that this loss not only hurts the farmer but it also impacts on the overall national economy. “Organic farming has consistently proven to as be a valuable economic and environmental resource for Australia, growing at 12% per year and now with a value of $655 million.”

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