Australia's Federal Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, asks, "How much longer can Australian farmers match overseas competitors if unscientific state bans on genetically-modified organisms deny them access to higher-yielding, pest and disease resistant, drought-tolerant plant varieties?"
The bans he's objecting to are on *herbicide tolerant* GM canola! And the one thing that's missing from his list of largely non-existent* GM wonders is herbicide tolerance.
Meanwhile Canadian GM canola growers anxiously await hearing whether they've now lost their principal export market because of the problems GM canola has been causing.
From GM canola, to Bt 10, to Mon863, to Starlink, it's amazing what hype-driven (and Dubya-loving) pro-GM politicians don't get about GM's "competitive advantage"!
Note also the focus on biotech investment - does Truss actually know how many billions this big-money losing niche industry lost last year alone and how few people this industry employs?
The constant question with so pro-GM politicians is - what are we dealing with here? Stupidity, ignorance, mendacity, corruption, all come to mind.
With victims of the bad-idea virus, it's sometimes hard to figure.
* excepting pest resistance in GM cotton
Scrap ban on GM crops, Truss asks states
Ninemsn (Australia), Jun 28 2005
The federal government is stepping up pressure on the states to lift their bans on the cultivation of genetically modified food crops
Most states have moratoria in place on GM crops until 2008, but the situation varies in each jurisdiction
Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss believes the bans are "unscientific" and has again called for them to be scrapped
He has criticised the states for sending delegations to the BIO 2005 conference in the United States this week in the hope of attracting biotechnology investment, while still maintaining the moratoria
"How can the states and territories hope to attract any investment while they keep their moratoria on GM crop cultivation in place?" Mr Truss said in a statement
"You also have to question the credibility of Victoria hosting next year's Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference while maintaining a moratorium on the commercial use of agricultural biotechnology."
Cotton is the only broadacre crop in Australia that contains GM plants, while the cut-flower industry is permitted to grow genetically modified blue carnations around the country.
About 80 per cent of the national cotton crop, grown in NSW and Queensland, is now made of GM varieties
Queensland is the only state without a moratorium and relies on regulation by the federal Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.
NSW, while allowing GM cotton, has a moratorium on commercial GM food crops to 2006, along with South Australia and the ACT.
Moratoria are in place in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia until 2008.
There are also different rules in each state for regulating and managing research and development and field trials.
Mr Truss said the government has invested about $1.3 billion in biotechnology-related research and development since 2003 and more farmers should be able to take advantage of GM advances.
"The real losers are Australian farmers who are quickly falling behind their major competitors as they are denied the benefits of new technologies," he said.
"How much longer can Australian farmers match overseas competitors if unscientific state bans on genetically-modified organisms deny them access to higher-yielding, pest and disease resistant, drought-tolerant plant varieties?
"These bans are usually based on claims that being GMO-free will deliver marketing advantages for Australian products. How many more years do we have to wait for the so-called market advantage to eventuate?"
Don't Fall for the Hype Over Biotech
Grand Forks Herald, June 27, 2005
EMERADO, N.D.: Pro-biotech activists such as Al Skogen get pretty frothed up about the alleged wonders of biotechnology. But after 10 years, the real questions are, "Where's the science?" And "Where's the economics?"
Are the markets there for biotech wheat? Of course not. Otherwise, it probably would be on the market now. Wheat customers both in the United States and abroad categorically rejected the proposal of genetically modified wheat. Monsanto responded to massive market rejection of its proposed Roundup Ready hard red spring wheat in May 2004 by suspending field trials and withdrawing permit applications. It was the only rational thing to do.
Lucky for wheat farmers that Skogen wasn't in charge at Monsanto. Lucky for Monsanto, too. He probably would have run both wheat farmers and Monsanto out of business - and blaming the customers who didn't want the product wouldn't have been much consolation.
Speaking of consumers, their attitudes aren't changing very fast, despite the propaganda efforts of Skogen and others. According to a report issued by agricultural economist Dr. Robert Wisner of Iowa State University one year after Monsanto pulled the plug, U.S. farmers still stand to lose one-half of foreign markets and one-third of their wheat price if Roundup Ready wheat were to be introduced.
Also last week, Japan rejected shipments of U.S. corn contaminated with Syngenta Corp.'s BT-10 corn, an unapproved variety suspected of health problems. Many countries around the world have been buying only corn guaranteed free of BT-10, cutting U.S. corn farmers out of those markets and decreasing family farm income.
So, are biotech products safe to eat? There's not much proof - because not much research has been done, and what has been done has been kept secret. Only last week, a British court ordered Monsanto to release a 1,139-page report it kept secret, indicating that a genetically modified corn variety caused disease in rats fed the corn. Hiding research of negative health impacts of genetically modified crops does nothing but instill suspicion of the integrity of the science and public heath regulatory process behind GM foods, and rightly so.
In spite of Skogen's claims, no federal agency conducts scientific research to determine the safety of new biotech crops before they are introduced, and that's the way the companies that market GM crops want it. Other independent research also is rare. Two Norwegian researchers published a review in 2003 of the scanty research on biotech safety and concluded that "much more scientific effort and investigation is necessary before we can be satisfied that eating foods containing GM material in the long term is not likely to provoke any form of health problems."
But at least biotech crops cut down on pesticide, right? Not according to independent researcher Charles Benbrook, whose October 2004 report found that Roundup Ready crops have increased herbicide use on corn, soybeans and cotton by 138 million pounds since 1996 - about nine times the 15.6 million-pound decrease in insecticide applications due to Bt corn and cotton.
Most of the hype surrounding GM foods is just that: hype. It is hype to promote corporate products despite the concerns of food safety and the adverse economic impact to farmers. It's well past time for the United States to catch up on the safety and economic scrutiny of GM foods.
Leake is an Emerado farmer and member of the Dakota Resources Council.