GM canola growing in Melbourne suburb

50 kilometres south east of Melbourne, a local bee keeper is concerned that genetically modified crops could affect his honey production. “I believe that at this stage we know very little about these products,” said Chris, who lives three miles from a property that is growing GM canola. He worries about the effects of GM crops on both the bees and the humans living in his local area.

On Monday 2nd November 2009, a group of concerned Berwick residents gathered outside ‘Minta’, a property belonging to the Baillieus, the family of State Opposition leader, Ted Baillieu. Politics aside, it is the genetically modified canola crop that is being grown on the property which concerns this group of organic farmers, wholesalers, beekeepers and mothers. Darren, who owns the local organic food store, points out the bright, yellow crop that is growing just over the fence. “That whole paddock is canola - it has just finished flowering,” he says.

In 1890, Berwick had a small population of around 6oo people and was known for its cultivation of oats, peas, beans and potatoes. In 2009, this home of the displaced Bunurong people is a thriving suburb. Bob Phelps, from the GM free campaign group, Gene Ethics, said that the crop is adjacent to housing estates where local residents seem unaware of the potential for their gardens to be contaminated by GM canola. “The local councils and the gardeners of this area should not be having GM canola and its contamination imposed on them,” said Phelps.

Canola is used in many foods and in animal feed, and in 2008 the first GM crop was harvested in Victoria. Member of state parliament Tammy Lobato, whose electorate includes Berwick, attended the meeting and told the crowd that we are all being force-fed GM food for there is no labeling of GM products. The risk to human health is of concern to Crop Watch’s Jessica Harrison. “There is an increase in allergies and we are concerned that GM is involved in this,” she said. “There have been no proper studies done, and yet it is in our food right now.”

The canola growing on the Berwick property has tested positive for GM by Crop Watch, a group who are affiliated with the Network of Concerned Farmers, an anti-genetically modified food group. Jessica Harrison from Crop Watch says that the GM pollen will spread to the neighbouring properties. “You can’t put a fence around nature.” “Bees will go into that GM canola crop over there, and the seeds will spread all around the area.”

Greens candidate for the eastern Victorian region, Samantha Dunn, fears that the risk to the economy is huge. She says that the state has lost its clean, green marketing edge by allowing GM into agriculture in Victoria. “We haven’t done any real studies or any real testing, and yet we continue to do this, leaving a mess that future generations will have to contend with for a very long time,” says Dunn.

The director of Gene Ethics, Bob Phelps, says that local councils need to declare themselves GM free. “Already the shires of Yarra Ranges, East Gippsland, Bass Coast and South Gippsland are GM free. Casey and Cardinia need to be GM free also,” said Phelps.

Helen Lobato



Labor MP's protest earns rebuke from Premier
November 11, 2009

PREMIER John Brumby has been forced to rebuke one of his MPs for protesting against the State Government's policy on genetically modified crops at a property owned by the Baillieu family.

Outspoken Labor MP Tammy Lobato received the dressing down after joining several anti-GM protesters for a rally last week at a Berwick property owned by a relative of Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu.

The protest by Ms Lobato, a long-standing opponent of genetically modified crops, is embarrassing for Mr Brumby. He was outraged when threats to invade his family farm near Bendigo were made last year by demonstrators opposed to the Government's plans to pipe water from northern Victoria.

Mr Brumby is understood to have been angry to hear that Ms Lobato had protested at the Baillieu property.

A spokeswoman for the Premier said Mr Brumby had a strongly held view that people's private property is private.

''Tammy Lobato has been counselled about this matter,'' the spokeswoman, Fiona Macrae, said.

The protest took place at the property of Marshall Baillieu, a former federal Liberal MP.

Ms Lobato put out a press release about the November 2 protest, stating that residents were unaware of the potential risks posed by the spread of GM cropping in the Berwick and Beaconsfield areas.

Yesterday she told Parliament the ownership of the property was irrelevant and there was no trespassing.

''The gathering last Monday took place on a road reserve where people walk their dogs up and down every day. There was never any intention of trespassing and no invasion of anyone's privacy took place,'' Ms Lobato said.

The Gembrook MP said ''sensationalism'' over ownership of the property should not divert attention from the fundamental issue, which was that GM crops were being grown in a residential area.

The Brumby Government controversially lifted its ban on GM crops in late 2007.

Last July, the Premier condemned a threat by anti-pipeline protesters, accusing them of intimidating his family and ''unfair political play''.

''People can protest,'' Mr Brumby said at the time. ''But if every time a government makes a decision and people don't like it, they invade your property, that's Third World chaos.''

Yesterday, Mr Baillieu accused the Labor Party of targeting his family, calling such action ''totally inappropriate''.

''It was a well-directed release and I think it was pretty clear [the Baillieu family was targeted],'' he said

Corporate Candy rots your teeth and genes ?

Premature diabetes, chronic in indigenous communities etc do we need yet another reason to eat less or no sugar ?
(Monoculture on large farms in Oz has already farked the soil & water....)

The same Corporate crooks who caused the Great Financial Crisis are now globally grabbing the land from the poor (indigenous, peasants, broke farmers..) and scheming for fuels to replace peaked oil, GM sugar cane is one more example.

Australia to help develop GM sugar cane
Thursday, 12/11/2009

Australia's sugar industry has just struck a deal to develop the world's first fully commercialised genetically modified sugar cane varieties.
A joint venture company between sugar research body BSES and international crop protection giant DuPont aims to have GM cane in the ground in Australia by 2016.
The move is a clear indicator the local industry is desperate to maintain its competitiveness in a sugar world dominated by Brazil.

The deal will give Australian cane growers and millers access to DuPont's GM technology and experience in approving and commercialising GM crops, while DuPont gets to sell the rights worldwide.
The new varieties are expected to cost 55 cents per tonne at the farm, and there are already grumbles as to how that cost will be shared between growers and millers.
There are also concerns about consumer resistance to the sugar that comes from GM cane.


In Australia, where both Dow and Syngenta are collaborating with leading public research institutes on GM sugar cane, the sugar industry has already formed ...

ETC Group, “Commodifying Nature’s Last Straw? Extreme Genetic Engineering and the Post-Petroleum Sugar Economy”, October 2008,

We've been genetically modifying plants and animals for centuries - its called breeding. Its what has advanced humans from living in caves to our longer, healthier lives now.