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Northern Gully farmer Mark Appleyard was one of the first in WA to harvest genetically modified canola last year and says he has no issues with crop drifting.
CLAIRE TYRRELL Northern Gully farmer Mark Appleyard was one of the first in WA to harvest genetically modified canola last year and says he has no issues with crop drifting.

After WA organic farmer Stephen Marsh found traces of genetically modified canola on his property many farmers are aware of the consequences.

After the public encounter, Mr Marsh threatened to sue his neighbours for the contamination of his crops.

Northern Gully farmer Mark Appleyard who has been growing GM canola since its release in 2010, said if he followed all the necessary laws, there would be no reason to worry about his crop drifting.

“For 15 years we weren’t allowed to grow GM canola and we abided by those rules, so I don’t see the difference,” Mr Appleyard said.

“I am working within all the laws that are in place, I am not breaking the law.”

More than 35 WA farmers have chosen to farm GM canola and more are looking to come onboard in the coming year.

Non-organic growers are allowed 0.9 per cent contamination in their crops, but organic growers have a zero tolerance policy in place.

“I think drifting crops only effect organic farmers, because they are allowed no contamination whatsoever,” Mr Appleyard said.

“The same issue would arise if what was contaminating it was not GM and it was a conventional crop that had been sprayed.

“The issue is not around GM canola but on any sort of crop that contaminates an organic farm.”

Mr Marsh was stripped of his organic title, which could possibly happen to other farmers across the state.

“I respect that this issue is having an affect on his livelihood,” Mr Appleyard said.

“There are things farmers can do, such as direct harvesting and not putting the canola in a place where it can blow around.”

Contamination concern has brought up the much-anticipated question, can GM canola be segregated and marketed separately to non GM canola?

“It definitely can work,” Mr Appleyard said.

“CBH have made every effort to meet the standards and it will continue that way.”

PETA KINGDON