There is much concern in Australia about the current drought. The forecast for this year’s wheat crop has been cut by 8.5 million tons to just 11million. This is less than half last year’s production of 24 million tons.
The forecast for the canola crop is also down and there is talk about local crushers importing oil seed from Canada.
The imported canola would presumably be crushed to make vegetable oil and margarine.
If the imports go ahead, we will be importing seed from GM varieties of canola because that is what farmers grow in Canada. Farmers are banned from growing these GM varieties in Australia.
Indeed the current bans on genetically modified (GM) food crops in place in Australia, were forced by Greenpeace in particular to block the commercial planting of GM varieties of canola.
How hypocritical will that be, importing a product that Australian farmers are banned from growing.
And with all the focus on the drought, and predicted low wheat crop, it is interesting that there has been no public comment about the research effort in South Australia to develop GM drought tolerant wheat varieties; despite the bans.
Rather than rational discussion, a rural newspaper has published a letter denying the potential benefits of biotechnology for breeding drought tolerance. David Tribe explains, and explains the science:
David also has an interesting blog post on how much natural ‘genetic modification’ occurs within plant species: