GM, To Sue or Not be Sued

There is much talk about the rural sector and in the current media about the coming debate on the end of the moratorium on the Genetically Modified crop issue in Australia.

The writing is on the wall from the experiences elsewhere overseas and especially in Canada that have many in the Australian cropping industry worried for a variety of reasons. From being bound to buying seed from a supplier only, to health implications of the end product, to cross pollination problems.

It is the cross-pollination part of the debate and hence the seed patent ownership that almost undoubtedly is of most concern to the grower and so I would like to proffer the following for food for thought so to speak.

We understand from the anecdotal media chatter that the Canadian and North American experience has netted something to the tune of 457 million dollars in returns to companies from legal challenges to croppers in that sphere of the world from the use of seed stock that the corporations see as theirs and theirs alone. Without getting into the rights or wrongs of those problems your international counterparts endured, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Lets cut to the chase.

You croppers out there need to deal to the threat before the threat in fact becomes a reality, as you will never have the finances or wherewithal to stand against the legal onslaught once the dice is cast, especially not one on one.

Many of you, especially the smaller family orientated properties may wish to remain independent and stay as natural, unmodified grain growers, retaining seed from your stocks for the following season’s planting and hence have the ability to continue at minimal expense, your ability to plant the following season or seasons should drought, frost, hail or storm degrade, or destroy your most current crop.

The GM path may well inhibit your ability to do this without the added expense of each season being obliged to purchase new seed stocks from the supplier. This is one of many of the problems GM may demand you face.

The real threat though, is cross-pollination of your crop and future crops, of your natural seed and hence, contaminations of a natural crop that you and your neighbours have grown for generations. It is here that would and should be of most concern to you and rightly so if the Canadian experience is to be relived in Australia and there is nothing whatsoever to say it will not be, in fact to the contrary.

It therefore is apparent that there is a need for all farmers that have no intention pre GM introduction to declare by legal instrument and verifiable scientific analysis that their property is free of GM and that the very basis for the business is just that, GM free.

By virtue, any neighbour, or nearby cropper who is desirous of using GM seed stock and thereby enters into what ever agreement is necessary to do so, is put on notice that should such actions be pursued, then it will be cognizant upon such growers to ensure that such cropping does not impact on anyone else. Should this impact in fact occur in the form of cross pollination, or mixing of seed stock and hence degrade ones natural crop, cropping lands, or produce once cropped, the offending grower and perhaps supplying corporation if there is a contractual agreement, will be on notice that litigation for compensation will follow.

The right to pursue one’s legal right to privately, or commercially farm as one deems appropriate for their land is constitutionally theirs, but in so doing it is also their obligation to ensure that such actions do not impact on another and thereby cause undue harm. In this case the destruction by contamination of a property’s product that was clearly identified and, verified by science and noted by instrument that existed prior to GM being introduced to the equation, was in fact GM free and intended on commercially staying that way.

It is not good enough to declare that wind, bees, birds and animals may well have caused the spread of such contamination, as all these variables are well known prior to entry into such a GM venture.

GM cropping may well have a place, that is not the argument, but it does not have a place in a society, where by the Canadian experience, that a cropping society, singular or multiple, is transformed by litigation. Litigation that ends with a corporation directly, or indirectly, having introduced a species of plant that insidiously may not be able to be inhibited by spreading like a weed and then using that weed’s propensity to contaminate as reason for ownership and litigation.

No not all. Be pro-active, join with your neighbours in forming collectives, seek pro-active legal advice and be prepared to mount an immediate challenge to the commercial injustices the moment they occur.

In Canada the corporations took the legal challenge to the victims and put the onus upon those victims to defend themselves. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, declare your position, your product and your intentions well in advance and publicly and personally make it known that this exists. Signs on your fences, articles in your local paper, discussions on radio, letters to your neighbours and notification to your associations and government bureaucracies. Leave no stone unturned, nor any doubt in any farmer’s mind, that it is his/her right to grow GM crops, but it is his/her, their obligation alone, to ensure that no cross pollination occurs whatsoever, from exercising that right.

Do not count on legislation as protection alone, for corporations as big as Monsanto have the monetary might, time and wherewithal to legally challenge governments and enforce international treaties, do you? What did the NAFTA (North American Free trade Agreement) do for Canada?

Brumbyy (with 2Ys)

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