WA grain growers will lose international markets if they embrace genetically-modified (GM) wheat.
That's the opinion of two Canadian farmers who spoke at last Sunday's Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) meeting in Merredin.
Saskatchewan wheat grower Matt Gehl and Alberta-based grain and livestock producer Peter Eggers joined Julie Newman from the Network of Concerned Farmers to warn of the detrimental impact the potential commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) wheat could have on WA wheat exports, the lifeblood of the State's agricultural industry.
The Greenpeace-backed delegation said Australia would not only struggle to find a market for the product but also lose its existing markets due to contamination fears.
Young farmer Matt Gehl urged growers to look at the debate from yet another point of view.
He said despite what the National Farmers Federation (NFF) and WAFarmers' policy director Alan Hill had said about GM technology providing choice for growers, in the long-term, the potential loss of large portions of WA's international wheat-buying customers could spell the end of the State's grain export industry.
And that would spell disaster for all Wheatbelt grain growers.
"Aside from contamination, weed and potential health issues, international market options should be the leading consideration when we talk about the impact of the potential introduction of GM wheat to WA," Mr Gehl said.
Mr Gehl's family grew Roundup Ready (RR) canola when it was first introduced to Canada.
He said it was sold to farmers as a silver bullet solution to all numbers of paddock enemies including unpredictable weather patterns and weeds.
But after considering the affect continuous Roundup use would have on their farming system, and the restriction of on-farm choice resulting from being locked into grower agreements with the seed company Monsanto, RR canola was pulled from the rotation.
"Getting locked into grower agreements just cuts against the grain," Mr Gehl said.