STUDY: Adoption And Impact Of Genetically Modified (GM) Crops In Australia: 20 Years’ Experience

By Michael Stebbins • December 05, 2016

The following is an excerpt of a report by Graham Brookes, PG Economics, commemorating 20 years of GM crops in Australia.

All crops grown in the world are the product of thousands of years of breeding by humans to improve the quality and yield of the end product. Crop biotechnology is a modern extension of plant breeding techniques that allows plant breeders to select genes with desirable or beneficial traits for expression in a new variety.

It represents a new step in the evolution of plant breeding because it allows for the transfer of genes with desirable traits between unrelated species (i.e. allows for the transfer of genes between species that are unlikely to have been possible using traditional plant breeding techniques). It is also a more precise and selective process than traditional cross breeding for producing desired agronomic crop traits.

The main GM traits (a trait is a desirable or target attribute such as pest resistance) so far commercialised have essentially been derived from bacteria and convey:

  • Herbicide tolerance (HT) to specific herbicides (notably to glyphosate and to glufosinate). The technology allows a herbicide to be used to target weeds in the crop without harming the crop. For example, a glyphosate tolerant crop is tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate; and
  • Resistance to specific insect pests (often called insect resistant or IR crops): here genes have been introduced into crops like corn, cotton and soybeans and make a crop resistant to a particular pest. For example, a cotton crop with resistance to the range of bollworm and budworm pests.

GM crops have been widely grown around the world and in Australia for 20 years. During this period, the technology has provided significant economic and environmental benefits to Australian farmers and citizens.

Australian cotton and canola farmers have gained AUS$1.37 billion worth of extra income and produced an additional 226,000 tonnes of canola that would otherwise have not been produced if conventional technology had been used.

The technology has enabled Australian farmers to reduce their use of insecticides and herbicides by 22 million kilograms of active ingredient, equal to a 26 per cent improvement in the environmental impact associated with pesticide use on these two crops.

This reduced use of pesticides has also resulted in a saving of nearly 27 million litres of fuel use and 71.5 million kilograms less carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

To read the entire report, please visit the CropLife Australia website

Posted on September 20, 2017
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan.    GMO Answers provides the facts that answer questions related to biotechnology, GM crops and agriculture. We work to ensure that the content and answers provided by experts and companies is accurate and therefore do not present opinions about GMOs, simply facts. GMO Answers is a community focused on constructive discussion about GMOs in order to have open conversations about... Read More
Answer:
Posted on September 5, 2017
While there might be some institutions with the capability to make these transgenic watermelon and coconut plants for you, that does not mean that you would be able to actually plant them out. First, the institution would need to have a Biological Use Authorization to work with recombinant DNA to make the vectors to transfer the genes. Then they would need to be able to do the tissue culture required to transfer the genes and regenerate whole plants again, which can sometimes be difficult.... Read More
Posted on June 19, 2017
Yes, the EU is one of the geographies where GM-derived food and animal feed must be labeled according to conditions outlined by the European Commission on this webpage. GM labels are very common on sacks of animal feed. Depending on the type of animal, GM labeled feed is often the standard – except of course when it comes to GM free or organic supply chains. Read More
Answer:
STUDY: New report highlights 20 years of economic and environmental benefits from using biotech/GM crops
STUDY: Biotech/GM Crops Surge to a New Peak of 185.1 Million Hectares in 2016