GENETICALLY MOD­I­FIED:

Cot­ton grower in favour of mod­i­fy­ing ge­net­ics but oth­ers want more info

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - . . GEORDI OFFORD Geordi.offord@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

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.

PHOTO: GEORDI OFFORD

GUEST SPEAKER: Emer­ald cot­ton grower Re­nee An­der­son.

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