The bottom line to emerge on GM

AFTER years of largely empty rhetorical battles between pro and anti GM campaigners, the shadow boxing is one step closer to being over, with the news that WA farmers will be able to plant GM canola next season.

South Australia remains the only major canola producing state with a moratorium against growing GM, and it will be interesting to see if this proves an advantage or disadvantage in terms of marketing the crop, one of the major arguments of anti-GM campaigners.

Most of the growers who have grown GM canola commercially in Victoria and NSW thus far have been positive about the technology, but the rider on this is that these farmers include most of those most passionate about introducing the technology.

Will this same approval extend to others less keen to use the relatively costly Roundup Ready (RR) products?

It is going to depend on what growers get from the product.

On the plus side, farmers have said that it has given them more flexibility, in particular, the ability to plant earlier, which proved a crucial advantage in many parts of Victoria.

However, on the flip side, there's the higher costs and lower sale prices associated with growing RR canola.

The interference in terms of what will happen in terms of markets and pricing for GM canola mean it is very difficult to offer an accurate forecast, but it would appear that Europe, in particular, will remain a tough ask for GM producers.

With WA supplying a lot of canola in recent years into Europe, will its oilseed producers be prepared to forsake these markets for the sake of a more efficient rotation and the other advantages of RR?

The other major issue will be in terms of segregating GM and non-GM product, with just under 85pc of the nation’s canola now produced by the three states where it is legal to grow GM, according to the latest Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) figures.

The bulk handlers will have to work to ensure contamination levels remain below industry standard levels.

Growers producing non-GM canola will be looking to leverage premiums available and will not want their product contaminated.

The decision is a good one, providing choice to growers, but with the decision, comes responsibility to ensure non-GM producers can continue to grow and market their product with the same freedom.

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29/01/2010 6:48:56 AM

There are no premiums for non-GM canola. They might as well mix it all up.
29/01/2010 8:28:30 AM

I'm glad the majority of my food intake is now vegetables, fruit and some grass fed meat. Processed foods requiring canola or rape seed oils are not on the menu.
R See 1
29/01/2010 9:42:25 AM

Will this change of heart now be extended to cover cotton and sugarcane too? GM lines of both of these offer much to the NW of WA as well as the NT.
29/01/2010 11:28:59 AM

Sure do cotton, but you will not convince consumers to eat it. Consumers please buy from South Australia the safest food region in Australia.
29/01/2010 11:41:58 AM

R See 1...where have you been? GM cotton was exempted last year in WA, but oddly not one NW farmer has chosen to grow much for the demand to 'have choice' and here's one for dickytiger...last year there was a stall on a price for GM canola over east as they were having problems getting buyers...non GM canola ended up with a price premium in the end as this was the grain of choice for most of the grain buyers.
29/01/2010 7:01:33 PM

Cotton seed oil is being used for cooking in most of the developing countries since long time and after introduction of GM. I do not think about any problem in using GM canola/cotton/sunflower etc oil. It is only perceptions and GM is a method or scientific technique used to solve food-clothe-shelter problems.
Dave N
31/01/2010 2:30:51 PM

What planet are you on dickytiger? gm canola was between 15 and 18 dollars less per ton in our area (cargill and graincorp prices delivered to Grenfell) No price premium there. I forgot to mention royalties and freight on top of that . Wake up all I smell is a scam !!!!
Grain of TruthRural Press grains writer Gregor Heard on the big issues facing the broadacre farmers today.


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