1.Re: Where's the evidence of GM benefits for Australia? - Jeremy Tager
2.So who's Rick Roush? - GM Watch
NOTE: There's a report out from Rick Roush of Melbourne University claiming Australian canola (oilseed rape) yields are in decline because farmers there haven't been able to grow GM canola. However, as Kim Chance, Western Australia's Ag Minister, has noted, this yield decline claim conveniently ignores climatic conditions in recent years when Australia has experienced some of the worst droughts in its history.
Chance says the industry needs to prove that there would be benfits for Australian farmers and, as Jeremy Tager notes below (item 1), the biotech industry has been anything but keen to put the benefits of GM canola to the test, and it has specifically used the drought to cry off!
The Roush report also claims that Canada's farmers are reaping massive benefits from GM canola. But the farming paradise painted by Roush, who's one of the world's most fervent GM promoters (see item 2), hardly tallies with a reality of rising debt and increasing dependence on massive subsidies and off-farm income amongst Canadian farmers.
Here's Darrin Qualman, director of research for Canada's National Farmers Union in a recent interview:
'Canadian net farm income over the past 20 years has been falling. Today, it stands at its lowest level ever... as technology use has gone up, profitability has gone down.'
'...on a rough, per-acre basis, crop producers here are probably losing about $50 to $100 on every acre as reflected in subsidy and debt levels. Canada's high-input, high-tech, high-cost food production model is probably the least profitable in the world.'
'GM seeds do not increase profitability. They do not increase yield. They do not decrease costs.'
1.Re: Where's the evidence of GM benefits for Australia?
COMMENT from Jeremy Tager: It's worth noting that the GE canola industry was given the chance to conduct large scale field trials in Australia in 2005. Permission was granted by the New South Wales Government for 5000 hectare trials. The Agriculture Minister however, insisted that the trials would be comparative, independent and all results publicly released. Bayer, among those touting GE crops for resisting the effects of drought, refused to take up the offer because of the drought. Now they are hoping to get commercial approval anyway without ever having to prove their crops actually perform.
2.So who's Rick Roush?
Rick Roush of Melbourne University is an American entomologist well known for his extreme enthusiasm for GM crops.
Prior to melbourne Roush was Director of the Statewide IPM Programme at Davis, University of California, where he was very active in campaigning against local ballot initiatives seeking controls on GM.
Roush was formerly chief executive officer of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Australian Weed Management in Adelaide. He is also a former member of Australia's Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee.
Roush is well known as a long-time pro-GM activist and has left his mark on many e-mail lists, from several of which he's been banned or has 'retired' in the face of complaint.
In 2002 a study by Roush and his CRC colleagues was published in the American journal Science. The team had studied GM canola pollen drift on trial fields in southern Australia and claimed to have found that unwanted gene transfer occurred in such minute quantities that they believed non-GM crops were 'not in any danger' (M. A. Rieger, M. Lamond, C. Preston, S. B. Powles and R. T. Roush, Science 296, 2386-2388; 2002).
However, as the journal Nature has noted, Roush and his co-authors failed to 'mention that two biotech corporations - Monsanto and Aventis Crop Sciences (now owned by Bayer) - paid nearly 20% of the costs of the trials. Science requires contributors to declare financial ties that might be construed as influencing the outcome of their research.'
As a result of this incident Science has now revised its disclosure policy so that all funding sources must be revealed in the paper's reference section. The scientific evidence shows that any financial relationship with a relevant industry is likely to be associated with the expression of a more positive attitude towards the safety of that industry's products. For instance, a January 1998 study in The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 338, no.2) showed a strong association between authors' published positions on product safety and their financial relationships with the relevant industry. More recently a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (J. E. Bekelman, Y. Li & C. P. Gross, J. Am. Med. Assoc. 289, 454-465; 2003) concluded that industry-sponsored studies are nearly four times more likely to reach pro-industry conclusions than are studies that are not industry-sponsored. (see Nature 424, 369 (24 July 2003); doi:10.1038/424369c)