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Costly harvest of ignorant GM campaign

By Jennifer Marohasy - posted Friday, 16 December 2005


Incredibly, in Australia we have banned GM varieties that could help us reduce our ecological footprint, through the use of more environmentally friendly herbicides in the case of soybeans and canola.

Ironically, while the Victorian Government has banned GM food crops, Victorian farmers import large quantities (pdf file 152KB) of GM soybeans from the US to feed their dairy cows. Europe is supposedly GM free but imported $858 million worth of GM soya last year, also from the US.

Benbrook’s tour has added to the confusion and fear and included claims at odds with the official statistics. The misapprehension is likely to reinforce opposition to GM technologies and increase market share for organic farmers.

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The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics has reported that failure to commercialise GM crops will cost Australian agriculture $3 billion by 2015. Executive director Brian Fisher has said that growth in GM crops overseas will disadvantage Australian grain and oilseed producers as non-GM varieties are more expensive to produce. Furthermore, he has said that current bans are negatively impacting innovation and research in Australian agriculture.

Misinformation from anti-GM campaigning comes at a significant economic and environmental cost. Benbrook and the organics industry may be unintentionally playing an expensive game with Australian agriculture.

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First published in The Australian on December 9, 2005.



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About the Author

Jennifer Marohasy is a senior fellow with the Institute for Public Affairs.

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