Truck spills GM canola

Haidee VandenbergeCountryman

Up to eight tonnes of GM canola has spilt during transit, near a 40,000-hectare zone local farmers wanted declared GM-free.

Last year a proposal by 12 adjoining Williams farmers to declare their land GM-free was rebuffed by WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman, who said the move was not necessary.

Now there are fears a lucrative Japanese market for their non-GM canola could be impacted by the spill.

Witnesses said the canola spilt through the base of the truck, near Narrakine in the Shire of Williams.

They said the truck was carting the grain from the CBH Cranbrook receival point to Perth via Albany Highway when the wheels of the truck caught fire and melted the aluminium floor. A CBH spokeswoman confirmed the grain was en route to a customer when at 1pm on Tuesday the truck driver was alerted that a differential on a trailer had caught fire.

The driver pulled over and the canola spilt from the trailer on the side of the road.

The spokeswoman said the driver did not sustain any injuries.

The exact amount of GM canola spilt is yet to be determined by the grain handler, but the spokeswoman said it was likely to be between two and four tonnes and not more than eight tonnes.

“Crews have been sent to assess the damage and begin cleaning up, ” she said.

“We are taking action to avoid contamination.”

She said the company would be attending the site throughout the next 8–10 weeks to assess whether germination had occurred.

But for local canola grower Janette Liddelow the concern is that CBH’s precautions won’t be enough.

She was one of the 12 farmers who wanted the GM-free zone declared and said the spill would not help negotiations with Japanese buyers.

“They’ll be shocked at this news — it’s one of their concerns, ” she said.

“You feel this sort of thing is inevitable and it only adds to the complications of the issue.

“As far as the repercussions go, we are always on to Main Roads about weed control (for road verges) and their continual response is there is nothing in the budget for it.

“If there is germination of GM canola, who’s responsibility is it?”

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