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Network of Concerned Farmers

(Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2003 -- CropChoice news) --

Network of Concerned Farmers newsletter

What is GM?

Genetic modification is quite misleading terminology as modification means change and conventional breeding is constantly changing to produce new varieties.

Technically, Genetic modification only refers to the recombinant DNA plant breeding technique. This is only where genes are transferred from one organism to another and the most common application is with cross kingdom breeding. For example, bacteria and virus genes are used in GM canola to produce chemical resistance. The GM problems occur because consumers reject this type of plant breeding technique.

Alternatively, NON-GM types of plant breeding are accepted by consumers, have no labeling legislation, no contamination issues, no liability issues etc.

Consumer accepted NON-GM plant breeding include;
Cell Tissue Selection
Protoplast Fusion
Plant regeneration
Embryo rescue
Tissue culture hybridisation
Anther culture hybridisation
Random mutagenesis

There are alternative agricultural plant breeding and mechanical improvements that are achieving similar aims to those promised by biotechnology. Eg. Mutagenesis breeding techniques is responsible for the current non-GM chemical resistant canola dominating the Australian canola industry.

Farmers are being promised the world with GM techniques but careful assessment of what is actually being delivered must be made. Does the risk outweigh the benefits? Should non-GM research and development funding be compromised?

Associated news items of interest:

  • Non-GM salt tolerant wheat available soon http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=89 ..a salt-tolerant durum wheat variety could be available to growers within three years
  • Research breakthrough will open doors to non-GM genomics http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=88 "Data derived from the project will benefit many research areas because rice shares common sets of genes with most of the world's major economic crops including corn, wheat, rye, barley, sorghum, sugarcane and millet...
  • Non-GM genomics holds promise for frost, boron, salt and drought tolerance. http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=46 ..researchers at the Centre will make most rapid progress on identifying the genes controlling boron and frost tolerance, with insights to other limiting factors not far behind. They will also be looking at how cereals tolerate drought and the related factors of heat and low moisture, frost and cold, waterlogging, salinity, ability to grow on soils deficient in nutrients such as manganese, zinc and copper, and tolerance to nutrient toxicities including boron, sodium and aluminium...
  • Non-GM wheat delivers drought tolerance. http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=26 ..A new variety of high-grade wheat capable of increasing grain yields in drought-affected areas by up to 10 per cent was released.
  • Non-GM technology slash chemical use. http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=45 ..A selective spray set-up with the potential to slash herbicide costs by at least 50%.
  • Non-GM breakthrough in disease resistance. http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=52 ..plant breeders have taken the first major step in developing a wheat variety for Eastern Canada which has Fusarium tolerance...

    Julie Newman
    Network of Concerned Farmers
    Newdegate, WA