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Farmers Federation angry over anti-GM website -

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Farmers Federation angry over anti-GM website

The World Today - Tuesday, 12 August , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Simon Lauder

ELEANOR HALL: To Victoria now where the battle over genetically modified crops is getting personal.
The Victorian Farmer's Federation is furious that an anti-GM group has published the names and
locations of farmers who are growing genetically modified canola.

The GeneEthics Network says state governments have failed to keep people fully informed and people
have the right to know. But the Farmer's Federation says it's an invasion of privacy which could
result in court action.

Simon Lauder has our report.

SIMON LAUDER: Earlier this year the Victorian and New South Wales Governments ended a ban on the
farming of canola, which has been engineered to survive the herbicide glyphosate. The GeneEthics
Network has long campaigned against GM canola, saying it spreads too easily to contaminate other
crops.

The director of GeneEthics, Bob Phelps.

BOB PHELPS: Well GeneEthics website is now carrying on its front page a map of the locations of the
farms that are growing genetically manipulated canola in Victoria and will shortly be also
publishing a map of those in New South Wales.

SIMON LAUDER: Why are you doing that?

BOB PHELPS: Well it stands in for what Government should have done and that is, they should publish
a register of the locations of GM crop sites, in order that people like bee keepers, grain
harvesters and the organic industry can protect themselves against contamination from these GM
canola crops.

SIMON LAUDER: The GeneEthics website uses news reports and other sources to name several farmers
who have planted GM canola and several others who have said they plan to. The Victorian Farmers
Federation says it's an invasion of privacy which could lead to legal action against the GeneEthics
network.

The Federation's President, Simon Ramsay, says the information is not in the public interest.

SIMON RAMSAY: I don't believe so. Certainly farmers have the right to choose whether or not they
want to use that biotechnology. There's nothing to indicated there's any trade issues in relation
use of GM or any food safety issues in relation to using GM foods. We use GM foods in a variety of
food stuffs now that can be brought by consumers at a retail level.

I don't believe it's fair on those producers to have their names publicly put out there on the
website by GeneEthics. It's purely a move by them to place pressure on those farmers, to try and
incriminate them and to discriminate against them in relation to publicly putting those sites on a
public website.

SIMON LAUDER: So you believe it amounts to bullying?

SIMON RAMSAY: Absolutely, in fact I think GeneEthics is an oxymoron given the unethical behaviour
by Bob Phelps and the organisation itself and certainly if there's any legal action that these
farmers want to take we'll be happy to support them.

SIMON LAUDER: So the insults are flying, regardless of whether lawsuits and canola-seed are as
well. Bob Phelps.

BOB PHELPS: Far from bullying farmers I think that the bullies are the VFF and these growers who
against the overwhelming majority of their other farmers, other rural industries and shoppers as
well. Even in the face of our objections they're going ahead whether we like it or not.

SIMON LAUDER: The Victorian Farmers Federation also says the naming of the farmers is an invasion
of privacy. Are you confident that the GeneEthics network will avoid any law suits here?

BOB PHELPS: Absolutely confident. If any of these growers had any objections whatever to being
named then they wouldn't have given their names to the journalist who interviewed them in the first
place. So if these people objected to the information about them being in the public domain that
was the time to object. Not now that we have simply gathered it together and republished it.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Director of the GeneEthics Network, Bob Phelps, ending that report by
Simon Lauder.