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SCIENCE & POLICY: GM crops an aid to coping with new climate, says Australian report



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  GM CROPS AN AID TO COPING WITH NEW CLIMATE, SAYS REPORT

SOURCE: The West Australian, Australia

AUTHOR: Jodie Thomson

URL:    http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=146&ContentID=113625

DATE:   17.12.2008

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GM CROPS AN AID TO COPING WITH NEW CLIMATE, SAYS REPORT

The State?s major farm groups have seized on a new report - which argues genetically modified crops can help farmers better adapt to climate change - to call for a lifting of the ban on GM food crops.

A report by the Federal Government?s Bureau of Rural Sciences found GM technology could allow crops to be grown with less water and to become more tolerant to heat.

The controversial technology could also help cut greenhouse gas emissions by improving resistance to insects and herbicides and so reduce the number of times crops must be sprayed, which lowers fuel use.

?The adoption of GM insectresistant cotton has proved very effective in controlling insect pests,? bureau executive director Karen Schneider said.

?This technology will become increasingly important when addressing altered pest distributions expected under climate change.?

WAFarmers chief executive officer Andy McMillan said he hoped the report would be a further incentive for the State Government to pave the way for GM canola trials next season and for the State?s moratorium on modified crops to be lifted.

Mr McMillan said the report?s release was timely given the need for farmers to be better prepared for future inclusion in an emissions trading scheme.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association grains committee chairman Leon Bradley said the report reaffirmed the need to remove WA?s ban on GM crops.

Despite the two key farm groups pushing for GM food crop production, many farmers and groups such as the Network of Concerned Farmers remained opposed to the technology, particularly over fears that the introduction could threaten overseas markets.

The State Government last month announced commercial GM cotton production would be permitted in the Ord region under a special exemption from the ban.

?This report injects some credible information into the debate around GM crops,? State Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said yesterday.

?West Australian farmers are keen to do their bit to lower their impact on the environment and GM crops may well assist with this.?



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  BIOTECHNOLOGY IS HELPING THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

SOURCE: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia

AUTHOR: Bureau of Rural Sciences, Press Release

URL:    http://www.daffa.gov.au/about/media-centre/brs-releases/2008/biotechnology_is_helping_the_fight_against_climate_change

DATE:   16.12.2008

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BIOTECHNOLOGY IS HELPING THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

Biotechnology can help Australian farmers to remain viable despite the effects of a changing climate.

Karen Schneider, Executive Director of the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS), today released the report Australia?s crops and pastures in a changing climate: can biotechnology help?

?There are a number of plant traits likely to be important for adapting to climate change, including heat tolerance, water and nitrogen use efficiency, and pest and disease resistance,? Ms Schneider said.

?Biotechnology techniques, such as genetic modification (GM), are increasingly playing an important role in the development of new crop and pasture varieties with these traits.

?The adoption of GM insect-resistant cotton has proven very effective in controlling insect pests.

?This technology will become increasingly important when addressing altered pest distributions expected under climate change,? Ms Schneider said.

Biotechnology can also assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by agriculture.

?GM insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant crops grown by Australian farmers already help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cropping by reducing the fuel use associated with pesticide applications and encouraging no-till or conservation tillage practices.

?New varieties developed using biotechnology may help to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions. For example, nitrogen-use efficient crops could lead to reductions in the use of nitrogenous fertiliser,? said Ms Schneider.

Biotechnology can also indirectly mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by facilitating the adoption of farm management practices that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase carbon sequestration activities.

In Australia, GM organisms are regulated by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, and are assessed for risks to human health and safety and the environment.

For further information or to download a copy of Australia?s crops and pastures in a changing climate: can biotechnology help? visit www.brs.gov.au.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  FARM GROUP LABELS REPORT GM PROPAGANDA

SOURCE: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/12/17/2448604.htm

DATE:   17.12.2008

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FARM GROUP LABELS REPORT GM PROPAGANDA

The Network of Concerned Farmers says a new report by the Bureau of Rural Sciences is a propaganda exercise for genetically modified (GM) technology. The bureau?s report recommends the Government further explore the role of biotechnology in overcoming the impacts of climate change on farming. But farmer Julie Newman, from Newdegate in Western Australia, says the report promotes GM technology over non-GM biotechnology. ?They failed to explain that the biotechnology patent and intellectual property is all tied up with multinational corporations,? she said. ?They want GM over non-GM because this gives them higher profits on their investments and it locks farmers into being contract growers for their supply chain.?


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