Beware the GM watermelon

Beware the GM watermelon


Opinion
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IT appears that the WA Labor Party has decided that, just as it is too hard to push toothpaste back into the tube, it is too hard to stop farmers growing GM canola because too many of them are doing it.

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IT appears that the WA Labor Party has decided that, just as it is too hard to push toothpaste back into the tube, it is too hard to stop farmers growing GM canola because too many of them are doing it.

A big victory for common sense perhaps, but a large sting in the tail from the party's agriculture spokesman, Mick Murray, who assured all and sundry that the ALP is still opposed to GM products.

"If there was a GM watermelon, we'd say no" he announced in the Farm Weekly, demonstrating that, although farmers have won the GM canola battle, the GM war continues.

He didn't define it, but it does cause one to ponder just how much of a product must be produced before the ALP runs up the white flag and ceases its opposition.

Most of the cotton grown in Australia is GM varieties, designed to drastically reduce the need for pesticides to be applied, but because it has been used for so long, it would possibly get the ALP nod.

As a party that has often governed in its own right - and will do so again - the ALP generally has a more common sense approach than the fringe dwellers like the Greens, who will never be more than a minor nuisance.

However, the pragmatism shown by past ALP leaders such as John Curtin, John Tonkin or even Bob Hawke, is totally missing from the modern leaders who lie down and roll over on command from the Greens.

So, how would a definition of genetically modified look?

It would seem that the mule is a genetically modified animal because it is produced by crossing a horse with a donkey, so perhaps the Greens see it as a threat to the free world.

Practically everything that we grow has been genetically modified, with plants including flowers, cereals, fruits and vegetables being produced by cross breeding, albeit from a long and cumbersome process.

If one gene is needed from one plant, the first cross will have half of its genes from each parents, with many more crosses being needed in an effort to retain as much of the good original plant while still capturing the "good" gene.

The gene technology revolution allows breeders to physically remove just the single gene desired and place it into another plant, simpler, quicker and much more effective.

So, why is this improvement going to destroy the world? After all, Roundup Ready and Triazine Tolerant canola varieties both have a resistance to a targeted herbicide.

RR is achieved by gene technology, TT by standard cross breeding, yet the fringe dwellers consider TT acceptable while RR produces Frankenstein Food.

Some claim that GM is evil because a gene from another specie can be added, producing an "unnatural" product, although it appears that humans share 30pc of their DNA with the humble banana.

What the GM opponents refuse to admit is that GM is a process, not a product.

The process provides the opportunity to speed up the traditional crossbreeding method in the search for new varieties, a goal that should be endorsed by all.

Currently, GM products are subject to more testing and examination than any traditionally produced varieties, so even if a cross/specie gene were to be used, they are still safe.

Unless the founders of Greenpeace are right in that the current Green organisations are anti-science.

But Mick Murray had better be on his guard, for we can now buy seedless watermelons, and they could be Genetically Modified.

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