Use GM to feed world

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

Grains Industry Association of WA chairman Sean Powell has urged the agricultural industry to focus the debate over genetically modified grains towards the responsibility to feed the world.

Mr Powell, who farms at Shakleton, was speaking at GIWA's Seeding Success conference, held in Perth last week and attended by agricultural consultants from WA.

The Seeding Success event included discussions on the latest varieties from plant breeding and seed companies and developments in chemical usage.

Mr Powell said it was important to continue to promote the benefits of GM canola outside agriculture.

"Quite frankly we're so far doing a poor job of convincing those outside of agriculture that we need this technology - we all have to remember that this is just another piece of technology," he said.

"We need to shift the debate outside our industry away from being about the benefits to the farmer, and to encourage discussion around the significance of this technology in feeding the world.

"It's very easy for us in the Western world to go back home and have a comfortable roof over our heads and a full stomach at night. There are parts of the world where they don't have that choice.

"They don't have a choice of food.

"The large populations to the north of us in 10 to 20 years time will be turning to us asking whether we have done enough to maximise food production That should be the message we give those who want to stop this particular technology entering our industry."

Mr Powell said GIWA ran a coexistence policy and had actively encouraged the organic industry to engage with GIWA, though he conceded the industry group had not been particularly successful so far.

Also speaking at the conference, Nuseed northern WA regional sales manager Hugh Trenorden said his company was for the first time in WA offering Roundup Ready monola, which could be grown from next year.

Harvested monola carries a premium of $95/t for Triazine Tolerant and $65/t for RR, over the standard canola price. Monola-contracted growers will supply grain to the Riverland crushing plant, which is a owned and operated by GrainCorp.

In offering both the new RR monola and its existing TT monola, Mr Trenorden said Nuseed focused on growers within a 180km radius of Pinjarra where the Riverland crushing plant was located.

The speciality monola oil has proven health benefits and carries the National Heart Foundation tick of approval, containing less than 7 per cent saturated fat, compared with other traditional frying oils which range from 26 per cent to 51 per cent saturated fat. KFC announced two years ago it had turned to using 100 per cent Australian high oleic canola oil because of the health benefits over standard oils.

Mr Trenorden said Nuseed's first hybrid Roundup Ready monola was well adapted to WA conditions with class-leading early vigour and an early maturity helping it yield well even in adverse growing conditions.

"On the east coast, RR monola has been an option for growers for the last two years," he said. "The varieties perform competitively with RR canola varieties on the market, delivered into niche markets domestically and overseas.

"In my experience there is generally a yield advantage in growing hybrid Roundup Ready varieties compared to open pollenated Triazine Tolerant varieties, both though are viable options in WA and growers can choose which system best suits the specific paddock they are planning to crop."

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