Opinion published in The Land, Thursday, August 11, 2011, p18.
HOW independent are these leading Australian grains industry members when they dismiss suggestions genetically modified (GM) wheat has been roundly rejected in Australia and overseas? (“Industry rejects Greenpeace claims”, The Land, July 28, p16).
Which survey results show their 80 to 90 per cent of graingrowers supporting GM wheat research?
They dismiss rejection overseas with the statement from the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) that US growers are “excited about using the potential benefits”.
The top three sponsors of NAWG are the world-leading biotechnology companies.
Meanwhile, 83pc of Canadian farmers reject GM wheat.
A 2009 peer-reviewed journal reported that: “GM wheat was abandoned in 2004, but industry groups and their partners are now seeking its reintroduction. However, the great majority of Canadian farmers, many themselves growing GM canola, felt that risks associated with GM wheat far outweighed any benefits.”
Overall, farmers ranked the risks of market loss, corporate control of the food supply, agronomic impact and contamination of non-GM crops much higher than any anticipated production benefits.
Awareness is growing of long-term impacts of GM on environment and human health with studies in North and South America showing negative outcomes after 15 years of GM crops.
Reasons for our industry groups to support GM wheat are the long-standing promises of “grain yield, drought and heat tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, frost tolerance and fungal disease resistance”.
For many of our innovative farmers those outcomes are already being achieved with current genes on healthy soils.
Crops can be managed to increase soil fertility by activating soil biology and improving soil carbon while reducing use of synthetic fertilisers and chemicals.
DR MAARTEN STAPPER,