Cotton grower in favour of modifying genetics but others want more info
FOR the past 20 years, Emerald cotton grower Renee Anderson has been growing genetically modified cotton.
It has been a huge benefit to her farm, workers, family and the environment according to Mrs Anderson, who said the crop needs fewer inputs.
“In 1996 we had some fairly major issues in the cotton industry, insects were developing resistance to chemistry,” she said.
“The first genetically modified crops came then.
“Subsequent introductions of the single-, two- and three-gene cotton has enabled a huge reduction of pesticides.”
Mrs Anderson shared her knowledge at the recent GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and Food Safety Forum held by Healthy Soils Incorporated.
“There are thousands of safety studies that have been done, and on human health there have been more than 800 studies,” she said.
“I see it as a huge benefit for my family and the environment on our farm.”
However, there were producers at the forum who disagreed with her on the safety of the issue.
Chairman of Healthy Soils Incorporated and organic beef farmer Mick Alexander said not enough was known about GMOs to deem them safe.
“It works for the cotton growers because it does reduce the amount of sprays they do but for the other industries there’s a big split,” he said.
“It’s not proven safe for consumption. Our government regulators have pretty much said ‘no one has died from it, then it’s all safe’.
“They did the same thing with glyphosate and it’s a major concern right now.”
Mr Alexander said the forum gave graziers and crop growers the chance to learn more about the subject.
“People really wanted to find out what the GM impact was,” he said.
“We had talks last year but our members weren’t exactly told how they were made, so that is what they’ve come to find out.”
Executive director of The Bioscience Resource Project, Dr Jonathan Latham, spoke about what makes a GMO.
“Companies are taking pieces of DNA from other organisms they think will be useful in crops and inserting them by using things such as gene guns or bacteria,” he said.
“They then go through a process of breeding and selection and then they are released out onto the market.”
Dr Latham said while GMO crops may be resistant to certain diseases and take less spraying, there was always a risk when they were consumed.
“We do have evidence of more and more intestinal diseases among the population and there is mechanistic evidence that these toxins can cause harm in organisms other than the pest species,” he said.
“Companies need to not control the research as much
and regulators need to step up. With the companies, they do their research and testing and you don’t know anything
about the product until it’s released. They should be giving information before that.”
More information about c the forum and genetically modified organisms in next week’s edition.
GUEST SPEAKER: Emerald cotton grower Renee Anderson.