Markets for WA GM canola hard to find

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Three grain marketers have confirmed sales of WA genetically modified canola after a conflicting report in State Parliament last week.

Cargill, Emerald Group and CBH have sold GM canola this year on international and domestic markets.

Last week during question time in parliament, the gallery was told 49,000 tonnes of GM canola was produced in WA and none had been sold.

Anti-GM lobby groups were quick to highlight a lack of markets as a key example of why growing GM canola should be banned in WA.

Cargill would not disclose tonnages on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, but said it purchased and sold both GM and non-GM canola.

The privately owned US company said there was international demand for GM canola by the European biofuel market as well as Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates for food.

GM canola made up 10 per cent of independent grain marketer Emerald Group’s canola acquisitions last year with most stocks sold to Japan.

Emerald general manager of distribution and grower services Rob Proud said demand for GM canola had dropped to some degree and Europe was pushing non-GM canola values.

“There are a number of markets that take GM canola such as Japan, China, Mexico and Pakistan, ” Mr Proud said.

“Even Europe, which has been the most discerning market is now taking a small amount of GM canola for specific uses.”

WA bulk handler CBH has only been able to sell a small amount of GM canola domestically and has the rest of its GM canola sitting in storage.

The WA co-operative exports 90 to 95 per cent of its canola to Europe.

CBH grain protein and oilseeds marketing manager Peter Elliot said European customers wouldn’t take GM canola at this stage, and marketing was limited to the sub-continent and some Asian countries.

“Our traditional GM-tolerant end users have indicated that due to the low oil content of WA canola last season they prefer to buy Canadian, even with discounts applied.

“Fortunately, we only acquired a small tonnage of GM canola this season so there is little impact for us.”

CBH will limit GM canola purchases from this coming harvest and is in discussions with end users whether to sell or carryover to the next crop.

With discounted GM canola sold on the domestic market, there are fears by food groups, its being purchased by poultry meat processors.

Australian Chicken Meat Federation, the body that represents producers and processors, executive director Andreas Dubs said processors sourced, to the best of their ability, non-GM canola, the same as soy.

Just Food spokeswoman Janet Grogan believes there needs to be more transparency surrounding GM canola including international and domestic sales.

“There isn’t a massive demand for GM canola and it’s still being stockpiled in WA ports, ” Ms Grogan said.

“Our fear is that domestic sales are ending up as animal feed and consumers are unknowingly eating untested and unlabelled GM derived foods or products.”

Both of WA’s canola processing plants — Riverland in Pinjarra and AusOils in Kojonup said there was demand for GM canola meal locally and internationally.

Canada produces more than 3.5 million tonnes of GM canola meal each year.

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