Join the network Truefood the guide Take action, be involved News and events Questions and answers Resources and info

news + events

GE canola does not stack up
GE canola does not stack up
GE canola a flop

The announcement sent shock-waves amongst many farmers, who had believed the industry spin and expected higher yields with GE crops. However the Network of Concerned Farmers (NCF) expected the result. "GM canola is not what it is promoted as," said Julie Newman, NCF National Spokesperson for the Network of Concerned Farmers. "We hope farmers will now realise that they have been misled to believe GM canola should yield more when there is no logical reason why it should."

The results are consistent with those for other GE crops, such as Roundup Ready soy. This has been shown to yield 10% less than conventional soy.

In the GRDC National Variety Trials, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola yielded 0.7 tonnes per hectare while non-GE Triazine Tolerant and Cleafield canola yielded 0.8 tonnes per hectare. The trials compared non-GM herbicide tolerant varieties with GE Roundup Ready canola.

The 2008 costs for planting GE canola included a half price stewardship fee of $500/farm, a discounted $10.20/tonne royalty fee and an extra $43.50 per hectare for seed. According to the NCF, these amount to an additional $25,820 for 500,000 hectares. This means that farmers would need a yield increase of 15% just to break even with conventional canola in terms of profitability. Instead, if the trials are anything to go by, farmers are paying 15% more to get a 17% lower yield, resulting in a 32% reduction in profit.

As Julie Newman puts it "agronomically and economically, GM canola has been proven to be a flop."

Recent polls show that only 27.6% of Australian farmers want to grow GE grain crops and the majority of consumers both here and in our major export markets, Europe and Japan, don't want to eat them (1). Because of this, most of Australia’s major canola users including Goodman Fielder (Meadow Lea), Unilever (Flora), Coles and Peerless (Tablelands) have rejected GE canola. And Canadian farmers completely lost their canola exports to Europe as a result of adopting GE canola. Australian farmers stand to do the same if they go down the GE path

The experience in Canada has shown that contamination is inevitable wherever GE canola is grown and that segregation is impossible. With no proven benefits and plenty to lose, this begs the question why the NSW, Victorian and WA state governments are putting the interests of the biotech elite above those of farmers and consumers?

(1) e.g. Rural Press National News Service, Parliament House Bureau, Canberra, cited in: Skuthorp, L (2007) FARM POLL: Mandate ethanol, but give GM a miss, 4/10/07; Newspoll (2008) GM Food Labelling poll, September 2008, http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/resources/reports/GE/rpt-gmpoll-190908

Truefood Network