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Industry Predicts More Controversies to Come...
MFU Calls for Farmer Compensation in Canola Crisis

(27 May - Cropchoice News) -- The 20,000 member strong Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) is lending a hand to British farmers caught in the middle of a seed contamination crisis. According to MFU President David Frederickson, "your fellow farmers across the sea believe that farmers who unknowingly planted GM-contaminated seed deserve fair compensation. The law is the law and it must be followed..."

One British farmer, John Sanderson from Norfolk, plowed his Hyola 38 under before it could flower. Sanderson says he was "flabbergasted" when he heard of the problem and "It may be that in the future I will decide to grow GM crops. But that has got to be my decision and I will take it if I feel the public is ready for it. It's certainly not something I am prepared to have foisted on me." Sanderson put his loss at 5,000 British Pounds (about $7,500) and said he would consult a lawyer.

This year Sanderson and about 600 other British farmers planted Hyola 38 canola produced by the Advanta company (makers of Garst hybrids). Since European agriculture officials revealed the supposedly conventional variety actually contained Roundup Ready seed at levels varyingly reported between 0.4% and 2.6%, farmers have been caught in a bind. In France, Sweden, and Norway (where a small experimental amount was planted), the crop has been ordered destroyed.

MFU's call may add weight to the pressure in the UK for the British Government to take legal action against Advanta. The Minnesota farmers come from next door to the Winnipeg-based Advanta subsidiary which produced the contaminated seed. Farmer's unions in the UK say they are seeking legal advice in the matter. Frederickson says "Regardless of the reason for what has happened- ignorance, an innocent mistake or premeditation- the English government should not force its own farmers and its own people to compromise a law of the land."

In France the government ordered over 1400 acres of Hyola 38 destroyed. Farmers there may be recieving compensation from Advanta, although the company has not admitted paying any payments. According to a French government statement, "Measures have been taken in collaboration with the companies concerned -- in particular the company which imported the seeds -- to preserve the interest of the farmers on the affected plots."

An ominous prediction was made Wednesday by Jack Cavanah, head of ASSINSEL, the international association of seed companies. ASSINSEL says that more contamination problems will probably surface. Greenpeace already claims it has evidence related to GMO-contaminated corn and cotton seed in Europe. Although MFU and other farm groups obviously disagree, the seed industry dismisses the purity problem. Cavanah says people will come to accept it "as part of progress".

SOURCES: MFU, ENDS Daily, Reuters, Executive News Service