The Say No to GMO campaign launched a new petition in Western Australia this month, asking that liability for contamination of non-genetically modified crops rest with those responsible for bringing GM crops or food into the state.
Currently, in countries where GM crops are commercially grown, farmers whose non-GM crops are contaminated by GM pollen are liable to pay royalties to the biotechnology company with a patent for that particular GM plant.
Campaigner Janet Grogan told Green Left Weekly that the petition aimed to turn the liability issue around: "Instead of farmers suffering the double burden of unwanted contamination and royalty payments or prosecution, we are saying liability must be worn by the biotech companies themselves."
The petition calls on state parliament "to introduce a strict liability regime to ensure all parties involved in bringing GM crops and/or food into Western Australia (including growers and patent holders) will be held legally liable for any contamination incidents causing market and economic loss, health impacts or environmental damage associated with GM crops/food".
"We're very concerned Victoria has agreed to the commercial cultivation of GM canola", Grogan said. "Despite all the PR hype, GM crops offer no advantages to farmers, consumers or the environment. The only beneficiaries are multinational companies trying to make a profit out of an untested technology that may cause irrevocable damage to the food chain."