Pro-GM Williams group forms

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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A pro-GM group is in the early stages of forming, aiming to show that not all farmers in the Williams area are against GM cropping.

The initiative is led by local farmer Lewis Johnstone, in response to the recently-established GM-Free Farmers Group, which opposes the repeal of the GM Crop Free Areas Act 2003.

Mr Johnstone said the pro-GM group aimed to demonstrate there were Williams farmers who had embraced GM farming.

"There is only a minority of farmers in this area against GM and I'm frustrated by the perception that the whole area shares that view," he said.

About 40 farmers had so far shown interest in the pro-GM group, according to Mr Johnstone.

There has been an initial meeting of farmers in the group, for which Murdoch University's Professor Mike Jones delivered a presentation about the future of GM farming.

The pro-GM group has not been officially named and Mr Johnstone said efforts to promote its message would be stepped up after harvest.

He said the pro-GM group believed GM and non-GM farmers could co-exist. Mr Johnstone's neighbour and GM-Free Farmers group spokeswoman Janette Liddelow has been involved in erecting signs on the approaches into Williams to promote her group's message about a GM-free area.

Mr Johnstone, who has grown canola for the past four years, said although there were many leading members of the group in his area, this issue was not dividing the community.

"We have had a lot of healthy debate and will continue to do so. It certainly hasn't become personal," he said.

This view was reflected by Mrs Liddelow.

"We are all neighbours and friends … the GM-Free farmers group welcomes this development as it puts the issues on the table, GM farmers are identifying themselves and it gives us a chance to talk more openly," she said.

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