WA’s anti-GM farming activists ‘like ISIS’

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
“These anti-GM activists are, in effect, the equivalent of ISIS operatives,” says Jim Chown.
Camera Icon“These anti-GM activists are, in effect, the equivalent of ISIS operatives,” says Jim Chown. Credit: WA News

WA Liberal shadow minister Jim Chown has likened opponents of genetically modified farming to operatives of the terrorist group Islamic State, in an explosive speech to Parliament this week.

Speaking under parliamentary privilege, Mr Chown claimed fraudulent acts were carried out, triggering the landmark case in which organic farmer Steve Marsh unsuccessfully sued neighbour Mike Baxter after genetically modified canola swaths were found on Mr Marsh’s property, causing him to lose organic certification.

Mr Chown in the State Upper House this week said the truth about the matter was contained in a Department of Agriculture and Food report from eight years ago. The confidential report was never made public but was tabled in Parliament by Mr Chown on Wednesday.

He said even though canola was highly fragile, photos in the report showed the plants found on Mr Marsh’s Kojonup property were fully intact.

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“I would like to know what sort of wind event can blow extremely fragile ripe canola plants to land on a neighbouring property across a 25m road ... fully intact? This is a miraculous event,” he said.

Mr Chown said he had no doubt that particular contamination was not a natural event.

“It was caused by the intervention of a person or persons unknown for the sole purpose of bringing the GM industry into disrepute and exercising through the courts the possibility of stopping these legal crops being grown,” he said.

“It is now patently obvious that the anti-GM movement and its supporters are bereft of any morals and will take any action, whether it is legal or otherwise, to pursue its ideological stance against any agricultural crop that is grown over billions of acres worldwide.

“These anti-GM activists are, in effect, the equivalent of ISIS operatives.”

The shadow regional development minister said information obtained under US-based Freedom of Information requests show the anti-GM movement was prepared to pay for and fabricate evidence for a trial.

Greens MLC Diane Evers told Parliament it was a matter that had gone through the courts and it was ridiculous that Mr Chown was raising these claims now.

“He also did a disservice to DAFWA by taking its confidential document and tabling it here, thus making it public and reading words into it that are not there,” she said.

A Greens-initiated parliamentary inquiry is being held on possible compensation schemes for GM-contaminated farms.

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