21 January 2003
FARMERS SILENT AS GM DECISION NEARS
Every year a brilliant piece of industry hype captures headlines around the world. It is reflected in the article from the Australian press below where we read, "In a release last week, Agrifood Awareness said a report by the US-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications showed that farmers around the world were continuing to adopt GM crops for their agronomic, social and economic benefits." This article at least goes on to note, "The ISAAA is funded by agritech giants Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer Crop Science."
In reality, despite seven years of GM crop production, this isn't remotely the rapidly accelerating global industry the ISAAA's figures claim to show. Indeed, far from having taken the world by storm, the rate of take-up of GM crops is slowing and, despite the rapid early expansion of crop acreage, they still account for under 5% of global broadacre agriculture. Worst of all for the industry, despite the claims about "farmers around the world... continuing to adopt GM crops", 99% of commercial GM crops have been planted in just 4 countries!!!
And the country with the biggest acreage is having trouble even giving them away to hungry nations as food aid and is screaming about going to the WTO to tackle market rejection and the billions it is losing in lost exports (see SEEDS OF DOUBT (Sept 2002) - download a pdf version for FREE from
Farmers silent as GM decision nears
Financial Review, Jan 20
Most Australian farmers' groups have decided against surveying the attitudes of their members to genetically modified crops, but they have rejected suggestions they are trying to stifle farmers' views on the issue.
Greenpeace made the claims after 56 per cent of the 1000 respondents to a South Australian Farmers Federation survey said they would not support commercialisation unless they were guaranteed that there would be no genetic pollution of non-GM crops.
About 80 per cent said a moratorium on GM commercialisation was appropriate.
Rural attitudes to GM have come into focus because of an imminent decision on the approval of Australia's first commercial GM canola crop. A decision on the application is likely before June. Organic and environmental groups say a proposed five-metre buffer zone between GM and non-GM crops would not prevent contamination.
The Victorian and West Australian farmers' federations and the NSW Farmers' Association said they had seen the results of the South Australian poll but had no intention of doing their own.
The NSWFA gene technology spokesman, Hugh Roberts, said the South Australian survey was "not very useful" and was not a representative sample.
He said "not all the information is out there" and people needed to hear more before forming an opinion. His view was that Australia should push ahead with GM crops.
Paul Weller, from the VFF, said delegates at its last annual meeting voted not to survey members.
A Greenpeace spokesman said farmers' groups were not allowing their members to have a say on the issue.
Meanwhile, a GM information service backed by government and the National Farmers Federation denied it was biased towards the interests of global agrichemical companies, even though it is promoting a report funded by agricultural giant Monsanto.
The service, Agrifood Awareness, is funded by the NFF, the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Avcare, the main body for multinational gene technology companies in Australia.
In a release last week, Agrifood Awareness said a report by the US-based International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications showed that farmers around the world were continuing to adopt GM crops for their agronomic, social and economic benefits. The ISAAA is funded by agritech giants Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer Crop Science.