Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Canola Contamination

Photo: Bob Baker, ABC
As more law suits against Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations crop up, the main concern driving this legal action is contamination of organic seeds and cross pollination between genetically modified and unmodified plants.  Even when precautions are taken and seeds are claimed to be sterile, this continues to occur and can have severe legal consequences for the farmer whose crops are contaminated and is viewed as a potential ecological disaster. 
This article from Australia Broadcasting Corporation highlights the unpredictability of GM contamination and that it is impossible for GM contamination to be prevented if these crops continue to be planted in so many areas requiring widespread transportation. 
A truck carrying GM canola caught fire, causing the contents to spill onto the side of the road.  The government just lifted a ban on GM canola last year, and this has infuriated those who are against GMOs including farmers and environmentalists.  The seeds that spilled from the truck have since germinated on the roadside and a nearby farmer is concerned about contamination. 
Nearby non-GMO farmers are calling for the moratorium in Western Australia to be reinstated.  Another ABC article focuses on the Safe Food Foundation's decision to seek legal advice in responding to the canola spill.  GM contamination is a likely result of spills like this.  Last year, scientists at the University of Arkansas found populations of wild canola plants with genes from genetically modified canola in the United States. Canola can interbreed with 490 different species of weeds around the world, and one quarter of them are found in the United States.  The scientists then completed sampling in a large area, traveling over 3,000 miles of highway to test the canola on the roadside.  There was wild canola in about 46% of the sites on the highway and about 83% of this canola contained herbicide resistant genes from genetically modified canola.  It's not surprising that Western Australia is reconsidering their moratorium.

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