Sharing the Australian GM Cotton Story of Environmental Progress


As fires and drought devastate Australia, scores of protesters call on government to take action on “catastrophic” climate change.

Green politicians and their backers regularly try to use science to justify their boisterous demands. Anyone who disagrees with these views is immediately ridiculed and labelled a “climate-denier” with the social standing and intellect of a troglodyte.

Yet they refuse to apply the same scientific principles to biotechnology-and in South Australia, they’re already threatening to reimpose a moratorium on the growing of GM crops.

This political catastrophe is counterintuitive to the credible body of scientific proof on plant biotechnology-including evidence of environmental benefits-which actually outweighs the global scientific consensus on climate change.

It also contradicts 25 years of proven agronomic, economic, and environmental advances from growing different GM varieties successfully throughout the globe and in other parts of Australia.

People have eaten trillions of meals since biotechnology-derived foods such as corn, soybeans, alfalfa, potatoes, squash, and papaya first started being produced in the United States.

“How many deaths or illnesses have been linked to genetically modified crops?” asks Cameron J. English of the Genetic Literacy Project. “Not one. Not so much as a sniffle.”

He continues “That’s not a surprise to scientists, as almost every food-related expert and every major oversight or regulatory body in the world has concluded that biotech crops are as safe for human and animal consumption as food grown conventionally or organically.”

Other arguments used to justify the anti-GM stance in South Australia, such as a so-called premium for growing non-GM canola, have been discredited through independent economic analysis. Yet somehow evidence and facts are all-too often ignored on this issue.

This convenient ignorance has denied South Australian farmers access to this safe technology, while watching on as producers in other states have grown GM canola successfully, such as here in Victoria for the past 12 years.

This has occurred without even the slightest hint of any doomsday forecasts coming true, that were touted by politicians and activists in scare and misinformation campaigns which delayed the crop’s uptake long after the science was confirmed.

Unfortunately, this irresponsible behaviour dents confidence in the local market, scaring off investment-not just in South Australia-into plant biotechnology research and development of new crops that actually enhance farmers’ long-term ability to manage climate adaptation.

For non-farming Australians, who have witnessed the debate raging over the GM decision in South Australia and may have been wondering what all the fuss was about, the explanation is quite simple.

It’s no different to a single Australian jurisdiction banning laptops and other modern communication technologies that help deliver improved improve educational outcomes, while teachers and children in other schools throughout the country can access such tools, to deliver genuine benefits.

GM canola won’t solve every problem our farmers are experiencing right now due to this savage drought and other challenges. But it’s an invaluable tool with great potential to help build sustainability and grow crops that produce better results in a world we’re continually told, especially by those who preach science when demanding radical climate action, carries increased production volatility.

A story of environmental progress these scientific vandals won’t share with the public-like a skeleton in the closet-is the one about GM cotton that was first planted in Australia in 1996.

Before its introduction, growers spent about $50 million annually on insecticides-but in the 20-years of using GM varieties, improved pest control has led to a 92 percent reduction in insecticide use.

In 2016, GM cotton accounted for 98 percent of total cotton plantings, in Australia.

This proves exactly what can happen when growers have the choice to move beyond the scare tactics of vocal minorities and experience the real and practical scientific, environmental, and economic benefits, on-farm.

Andrew Weidemann

Andrew Weidemann

Andrew Weidemann farms with his wife Julie, brother Rodney and his wife Andrea in the Wimmera region in Victoria, Australia where they grow wheat, barley, canola, broad beans, chic and field peas, lentils, oaten and vetch hay along with White Suffolk prime lambs.

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