Melbourne hosted an international agricultural biotechnology conference earlier in the week. I was expecting to read more about it in the mainstream media including how ridiculous it is that the Victorian Government is principal sponsor for a conference promoting a technology it has banned!
That’s right, moratoriums banning the commercial production of GM food crops were introduced into Victoria a couple of years ago.
I wrote a piece at the time for the Herald Sun entitled ‘Bracks Sowing GM Seeds of Doubt’.
Anyways, I’ve been surprised to hear so little about the three-day international event on the controversial emerging technology featured in a State that has banned it.
David Tribe posted comment at his blog about a session on the Australian Wheat Board and its view on GM bread.
Professor Jennifer Thomson from the University of Cape Town wrote a piece for The Australian entitled ‘Use Biotechnology to Feed the Poor’ with a summary of the GM crops currently being developed in Africa, by Africans:
“In South Africa, GM crops that are being cultivated include herbicide-resistant maize and soybean, as well as insect-resistant cotton and maize.
…The cotton and maize are being grown by many small-scale farmers who are experiencing great increases in yields. In addition, with insect-resistant cotton and maize, they are saving money by decreasing their use of insecticides — definitely an environmental improvement.
Other crops in the pipeline include maize resistant to the African endemic maize streak virus and cassava resistant to the African cassava mosaic virus. MSV is rampant in many African countries, and a few years ago Uganda nearly lost its entire crop of cassava to ACMV, which is spreading rapidly towards Nigeria, one of Africa’s most important producers of the crop.
Another trait that is being developed in important African crops is drought tolerance. The lack of water is surely one of the greatest problems facing agriculture in Africa.”
When will the Victorian government lift the moratorium on GM food crops?