Federated Farmers says the Productivity Commission’s recent recommendations on genetic engineering could provide the answer to greenhouse gas emissions.
The lifting of the ban on genetically modified crops will have immediate application for canola.
Director of the Sydney Institute of Agriculture, Professor Alex McBratney, said there are pros and cons to the decision to lift the ban on GM crops in NSW, which will align now with the rest of Australia.
“If we use genetic technology to improve the nutritional profile of crops, such as vitamin levels in rice, or by making crops more water-efficient, that will be a definite positive. We’ve already seen a dramatic drop in insecticide use in GM cotton grown in Australia.
“However, crops modified to be ‘Round-Up ready’ can encourage overuse of herbicides when we should be looking at alternatives, such as camera spraying and other precision agriculture methods.”
McBratney says it is important to remember that the only commercialisation of GM crops has been for canola and cotton.
“Genetically modified wheat hasn’t been commercialised anywhere in the world so far, so that offers a big challenge for our researchers.”
He says there are some markets, largely in Europe, that don’t want GM products – so it will be important to label GM products appropriately.
Meanwhile, Sydney Institute of Agriculture’s dean of science and soil scientist Professor Iain Young says the lifting of the moratorium on GM crops offers a host of opportunities, at a time when we have to secure our food production. “The lessons from Europe show us we must be proactive in dealing with public concerns and potential misconceptions.”