Farmers on Facebook to promote GM choice

11 Sep, 2015 02:00 AM
Brad and Raylene Burns, Binnu.
Brad and Raylene Burns, Binnu.

WA grain growers have taken to social media to launch a pro-genetically modified crops (GM) campaign to inform the public on why it is necessary for agriculture.

Raylene and her husband Brad Burns and Aimee and her husband Kyle Carson are just a few people that form the core group behind the online #farmerschoice campaign.

Ms Burns and Ms Carson have called on other farmers to take to Twitter and Facebook to post a picture or video that explains why they grow GM canola on their farm and hash tag it to get their message out.

They said they would like people to remain open to the possibilities of GM crops.

"At the moment we are using a GM crop that allows us to fight weed resistance and in the future we hope to have access to GM technology that allows us to further improve the quality of our food and fight the very real possibility of drought," Ms Carson said.

"We first started this campaign because we were concerned with the number of people who were anti-GM for no particular reason, other than it sounds like a scary concept.

"After a discussion with a few farmers in the district we decided that a social media campaign would be the best way to get our message across to a wide variety of people, including those who live in the city.

"I did not grow up on the farm so this way of life is all pretty new to me and I'll be the first to admit that if you had asked me five years ago whether I would support GM my answer would have been no and this would have been because all I had heard surrounding the GM debate is how 'poisonous' it is.

"However, since our introduction of GM (canola) two years ago my views have changed dramatically and I put this down to education.

"We took it upon ourselves to research the pros and cons of GM before we introduced it to our broadacre program."

Ms Carson said they see first hand GM's benefits.

"From a farmer's perspective we are excited by the prospects of future possibilities," she said.

"Because of this we want to share what we have learnt with as many people as we can and social media is a great way to reach people.

"We aren't here to discredit other ways of farming, we are just hoping to shine a light on the other side of such an emotive debate.

"We believe in choice and want the consumer choice to remain but we need people to be aware of just what is involved to feed the world's population."

The movement is timely due to the Marsh v Baxter case's return to court last week, and debate about government plans to repeal WA's Genetically Modified Crop Free Areas Act.

"There is a lot of negative image around GM," Ms Burns said.

"A lot of people up in the northern ag region use GM crops and found that the vocal minorities were being heard and people weren't understanding our choice to grow GM canola and the reasons behind it.

"We are trying to keep the pressure on the government and are trying to vocalise to opposing parties and others, that we have reasons.

"They are valid to us and the people in our region.

"For us we have a wheat, lupin rotation and we have an issue with wild radish, despite using chaff cuts, windrow burning and mixing chemical brews to try to defeat the weed, it's still there and is a big problem for us, this is one more reason why we grow GM canola, to add another tool to the tool box to try to defeat the weed.

"We have only grown it for the past two years, it is such a robust plant that we haven't even used any pesticide over it.

"It just gives us another option, especially for up here where it is warm and the wild radish loves it and I don't think people really realise that.''

Ms Burns said that on September 1, a few farmers posted on their wall and hash tag to show their support for GM and share pictures of their crops.

"I don't think we anticipated it to get this big,'' she said.

"We shared some videos, and some have had over 2000 views, so it has done what we have set out to do, to get our message out there."

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Jacinta Bolsenbroek

Jacinta Bolsenbroek

is a senior journalist at Farm Weekly
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


11/09/2015 6:42:59 AM, on Stock Journal

Roundup Ready Canola has worked inasmuch as yield benefit. However the side effect is not so good .Escapes / buyer resistance etc. This whole GM push is based on promises of wondrous things to come. Where are they ? Promises--we're waiting. IF something worthwhile turns up it will need testing because it will be different genes.
Mr Nozzle
11/09/2015 7:20:42 AM, on Stock Journal

An excellent initiative!
11/09/2015 11:07:29 AM, on The Land

Since no one has provided evidence to the contrary, we can say that 100% of gmo crops developed in Aust and subjected to animal studies by relevantly qualified scientists has resulted in harmful health effects due to genetic modification.


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