GM crops cop organic ban


A WESTERN Australian Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) proposal for tolerance to genetically modified (GM) material in organic produce has been rejected.

The DAFWA submission called for a 0.9 per cent tolerance level to GM material in organic produce, but has been turned down by the Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council (OISCC).

DAFWA made the submission in light of the high profile Marsh v Baxter court case in WA, where organic farmer Steve Marsh lost a case for compensation due to contamination by a neighbour growing GM crops.

OISCC claimed its decision to turn down the DAFWA was based on World Trade Organization (WTO) international food standards.

Marg Will, secretariat for OISCC, cited the WTO’s Codex Alimentarius guidelines, which she said excluded GM totally from organic systems.

“The guidelines state that GM material is not compatible with the principles of organic production,” she said.

For its part, DAFWA argued that there was a tolerance level for GM material in organic products in the EU.

“We requested an amendment of the standard to allow a 0.9 per cent tolerance level for the presence of GM, comparable with tolerance levels in the EU,” a DAFWA spokesperson said.

There was disappointment, but resignation from the WA broadacre farming community.

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