So it's finally here.
After years of debate, the first plantings of GM canola in Australia are just weeks away.
Now that it has been decided by the Victorian government that GM canola is safe to grow and to consume, farmers will face another debate - one much closer to home – will I make a quid out of it, and is it worth the hassle?
The benefits of the Roundup Ready variety that Monsanto has released on a small scale this year have been well documented by proponents of the technology – simple, cheap weed control, greater rotational flexibility and ability to sow on time and control in-crop weeds with a cheap herbicide.
Now growers have to weigh up whether these pros will outweigh the added costs: high seed prices (although not greatly more than some of the current hybrid canolas available), stewardship and technology fees.
On top of this, there will be other costs, such as higher planting and transport costs, due to the need for greater machinery hygiene and the risk of liability.
At present, Monsanto is telling growers that compensation for contamination in adjacent canola crops will only occur above industry agreed adventitious presence (AP) levels of 0.9pc.
The figures shown by Monsanto show this is unlikely should farmers follow the protocol for planting Roundup Ready correctly.
However, the anti-GM lobby is still fiercely campaigning against AP levels – saying that there is a premium for non-GM canola and that non-GM means canola without any traces of GM material.
There have not been any test cases to see what will happen should there be contamination – it could well be that the industry standard on AP levels is upheld, but it is another unknown for farmers.
At a GM accreditation day last week, it was heard that insurance is available for producers of GM canola, so that may dilute some of the risk, but the issue is there.
However, on the bright side, the technology is out in the open and farmers will now get a clear look at whether it lives up to the hype.
Should it work in Australian conditions and farmers find avenues to market for the grain, which does not appear to have been a problem for others, it is likely there will be a high uptake rate of GM canola.
If it flops, it is unlikely to meet with much enthusiasm – and that's how it should be.
What do you think?