Sales of GM canola surge

Sales of genetically modified canola seed in WA have jumped about 40 per cent in the past year as more farmers embrace the technology.

Monsanto revealed the rise in sales by seed companies licensed to use its Roundup Ready gene technology as it welcomed a landmark ruling in the WA Supreme Court.

It estimates 586,500kg of RR canola seed was sold in WA this year, up from 418,990kg last year and more than double the amount sold in 2010 when the Barnett Government lifted a moratorium on its widespread use.

Monsanto head of corporate affairs Adam Blight said the sales figures showed RR canola was fast becoming a mainstream tool for farmers. The Pastoralists and Graziers Association estimates about a quarter of WA's 4300 grain growers use it.

The sales boom alarmed green groups and anti-GM campaigners worried about the rights of organic and non-GM farmers in the wake of Wednesday's court ruling.

They were outraged after the court dismissed organic-certified farmer Steve Marsh's damages claim against his Kojonup neighbour Mike Baxter over GM contamination.

Legal experts said the ruling could be interpreted as a good result for organic farmers because it backed their right to retain GM-free status in cases where GM material accidently found its way on to a property and had no real impact on production.

They said a key aspect of the judgment was that the privately operated National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia should not have withdrawn Mr Marsh's organic certification under the circumstances of the case.

Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert said certification bodies should have the right to apply zero tolerance limits on GM contamination.

She said the Greens would continue to push for laws requiring prominent labelling on food with GM content for the benefit of consumers.

Calingiri farmer and GM canola grower Aaron Edmonds said the court ruling was a victory for common sense.

"We look forward to growing the potential of the technology because we are only touching the sides of what is possible," he said.

"With GM canola there is no such thing as an unprofitable crop in dealing with disease cycle in cereal crops."

Mr Edmonds said GM and non-GM farmers could co-exist under international recognised GM tolerance standards.

The West Australian

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