Friday, December 08, 2006

Australia's first shipment of genetically modified canola is on its way to the nation's grocery baskets after protesters held it up

... for three hours at a Newcastle dock.

[This story is from the Daily Telegraph. There's a link to Greenpeace on the margin.]

Three Greenpeace activists were arrested today for chaining themselves to their cars as a dozen protesters blockaded exits from the floating dock at Kooragang Island, part of the Port of Newcastle.

They were trying to prevent international grains trader Cargill trucking 57,000 tonnes of Canadian GM canola seed to its Newcastle processing plant.

From there it will be shipped around Australia to producers of margarine, mayonnaise, canola oil and animal feed destined for the poultry and dairy industries.

"Greenpeace is taking action to prevent GM canola from sneaking into the food chain," Greenpeace campaigner Louise Sales said.

"Australian consumers don't want GM and have a right to know where this shipment is going to end up.

"It's appalling that food producers are undercutting farmers by importing GM canola from Canada that Australians don't want."

Cargill has said it imported the grain to make up for a drought-induced shortfall in this year's canola crop.

But Greenpeace disputes the trader's claims, branding them a "misrepresentation of the truth".

"There's adequate domestic supply to meet demand. The actual predicted grain supply this year is 440,000 tonnes and domestic demand is 318,000 tonnes," Ms Sales said.

"Cargill are bandying about figures of something like 500,000 tonnes, but the figures I've got are from the Australian Oilseeds Federation, their recent report."

Ms Sales said Cargill's true motivation was profit, as importing massively-discounted Canadian GM canola was much cheaper than flying over seed from Western Australia.

Comment was being sought from Cargill.

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