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article imageEU's demand for non-GM canola benefits Western Australians

By Anne Sewell     Apr 25, 2012 in World
European countries who have banned GM canola are turning to Australia for supplies. They previously bought from Canada, but now that country grows mostly GM crops.
The demand from European countries for non-GM canola has given growers in West Australia a boost in business.
There is quite a variation in price, with non-GM canola selling for approximately AUD 600 a tonne, which is AUD 40-50 more than the genetically modified alternative.
Peter Elliott, CBH protein and oilseeds marketing manager has said that the demand had been created by the need to produce more biofuels in Europe to keep in line with new regulations.
Elliott estimates that around 70% of canola being sold on to Europe is being used to produce biofuels.
As Canada's canola crops are now mostly GM, this meant that the product could not be sold to Europe.
Elliott said: "So the WA [Western Australia] grower and SA [Southern Australia] grower have quite a good opportunity at the moment where they're sitting on a product that's nicely differentiated. They're reaping the benefits of that at the moment through these high prices."
"My preference is to be accumulating non-GM at this stage. That's what the market wants at the moment."
Elliott states that around 7% of the Western Australia canola crop is genetically modified.
According to The Australian Monsanto is now giving away GM canola at bargain basement prices in order to try and get some business.
In New South Wales, Monsanto is promising to limit direct farmer losses to only AUD 10/tonne. In Western Australia Monsanto is offering a one for three freebie to sweeten the deal.
Bob Phelps, director of Gene Ethics says: "Monsanto's WA advertisement does not even disclose that its offer is for free GM seed, describing it as an offer for FREE BAGS of hybrid canola seed. This misleading description should also interest the ACCC which seeks to prevent deceptive ads.
"The Terms and Conditions of the one for three offer attached to this email include: 'Free bag only applies to the seed component supplied by Canola Breeders and does not include stewardship fees on the seed as applied by Monsanto. Other applicable fees are the responsibility of and payable by the grower on the free bag/s.'
"Like Monsanto promises for the performance of its GM seed, this offer is not what it seems and should be refused by all sensible farmers."
Phelps further said that grain traders have been paying up to AUD 50/tonne premium in response to strong overseas and local demand for non-GM grain.
"In response to farmers reluctance to buy, Monsanto has offered NSW growers a price support that guarantees they will receive a maximum of AUD 10/tonne less for GM, provided they forward sell their crop and deliver the GM canola harvest to Cargill in Newcastle. We question whether such a price support scheme that encourages farmers to 'fix the price' is legal under ACCC rules against price fixing." said Phelps.
A report by Birchip Cropping Group has also found that GM canola seed yields no more than top alternative varieties and the oil content is similar.
Phelps concluded: "Birchip's gross margin analysis {reported in the Australian Farm Journal April 2012, Pp 20 & 21} also found that due to GM's sale price discount, GM seed royalties, brand-name chemicals required to be used, and extra transport costs to distant silos, GM canola is over AUD 150 per hectare less profitable than other canola options."
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