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2-Plants: Australian Farmers' Federation backs GE crops

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                                  PART I
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TITLE:  GM canola to boost Australia crop by 20 pct - report
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Mar 28, 2003

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GM canola to boost Australia crop by 20 pct - report

SYDNEY - Australia could boost canola production by around 20 percent a
year by introducing a genetically modified (GM) crop, a university report

The report, released as a long-awaited official decision approaches on
whether transgenic canola crops will be allowed in Australia, says
national canola production would increase by almost 300,000 tonnes a year
if GM crops were introduced.

"The adoption of GM canola is likely to provide significant
increasing canola production through higher yields and expansion of
areas," Dr Robert Norton of the University of Melbourne's School of
Agriculture and Food Systems said.

Australia would achieve little export growth and suffer declining
international competitiveness if it did not adopt GM canola crops, the
report said.

Canola, widely used a cooking oil around the world, would become
Australia's first GM food crop if given official approval. Cotton and
carnations are the only transgenic crops so far commercially grown in

Rapid expansion of Australia's canola industry, to 2.4 million tonnes in
1999/00 from just 200,000 tonnes in 1991/92, has made it the world's
second biggest exporter after Canada, whose crop is more than 60 percent GM.

The Melbourne University report forecast that GM canola would boost
average Australian yields to 1.38 tonnes per hectare from 1.27, boosting
production by 295,000 tonnes a year.

Wheat production would also increase by 64,000 tonnes on the additional
canola area because of fertiliser benefits which flow to a wheat crop
grown after a canola crop, the report said.

The direct increase in canola and wheat production would be worth A$135
million ($81 million) a year, the report said.

But with canola boosting wheat yields overall by 20 percent because of
fertiliser benefits, Australia would reap an extra 500,000 tonnes of
wheat worth A$100 million a year overall because of the canola crop, the
report said.


GM canola reduced herbicide use in the Canadian industry by 40 percent,
the report said. This was in line with Monsanto Co's (MON.N) Ingard GM
cotton, which had reduced pesticide use in the Australian industry by 50
percent between 1999 and 2001, it said.

Monsanto field work claimed a 10-20 percent yield benefit over
conventional canola and a 20 percent benefit over conventional herbicide-
tolerant canola, the report said.

This was consistent with Canadian yield benefits, it said.

Risks such as the movement of pollen from GM to conventional crops were
considered manageable, the university report said.

The study was based on GM canola replacing 50 percent of conventional
herbicide-tolerant canola and 40 percent of conventional canola, with an
additional 160,000 hectares planted to the oilseed because of the new

After years of debate and official inquiries, two proposed GM canola
varieties are currently under advanced consideration by national
authority The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.

One, InVigor, is produced by Germany's Bayer CropScience (BAYG.DE).
RoundupReady is produced by U.S.-based Monsanto.

The regulator is seen close to issuing a risk assessment report, which
would open two months of public comment, allowing just enough time for
the planting of a 2003 GM crop.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Potential Biotechnology Benefits Must Not Be Overlooked
SOURCE: National Farmers' Federation, Australia, Press Release
DATE:   Mar 26, 2003

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Potential Biotechnology Benefits Must Not Be Overlooked

Governments and the community must not overlook the potential benefits
that biotechnology and gene technology may hold for Australian farmers,
National Farmers' Federation Vice President and Chair of the NFF
Biotechnology Taskforce, Mr Wayne Cornish said today.

Releasing NFF's Biotechnology Position Statement Mr Cornish reaffirmed
NFF's view that Australian farmers stood to gain significant benefits
through the integration of biotechnology within production providing that
specific issues relating to the commercial release of individual
genetically modified (GM) crop varieties did not lead governments,
farmers and the broader community to dismiss the wider benefits that
biotechnology may offer.

"Farmers should retain the opportunity to adopt the method of production
best suited to their business needs, be that GM, conventional, organic or
any combination of these methods.

"If genuine concerns are identified with individual GM varieties, then
governments, farmers and communities must collaborate in considering such
issues, and where possible develop clear and practical management
strategies based on sound science.

"While NFF recognises that certain decisions on the management of GM
crops may be best made at the State or local level, through imposing
blanket bans or moratoriums on the release of GM crops (or all GMOs)
governments may jeopardize the productivity and profitability of the very
farmers they claim to protect.

"The NFF Position paper clearly opposes measures from government that
impose barriers to the commercial release of any GM crop, which is deemed
by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator as fit for release, and
assessed by industry as favourable.

"The debate over the integration of biotechnology within Australian
agriculture is far to important to be compromised by knee-jerk decisions
that fail to recognise the benefits that this technology may hold, Mr
Cornish said.

Download NFF's Biotechnology Position Statement

Kate Schulze
General Manager, Public Relations, NFF
(02) 6273 3855
0408 448 250