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The current status of GM/non-GM canola coexistence in Australian broadacre farming systems and likely future challenges


  • Alcock, K.T.


In a difficult and challenging political environment, the Australian grains industry has implemented a GM/non-GM canola coexistence framework that has succeeded in meeting market requirements for six seasons, with the seventh this year. The processes in place have enabled the industry to supply local demand and to deliver to two thirds to three quarters of production to GM and non-GM export markets, with non-GM canola to Europe as the largest single market. The challenges and impediments to this practical success have been idealistic rather than scientific, but are on-going. Two of the five Australian States where canola is grown maintain ‘moratoriums’ prohibiting GM crops under State Government legislation and the Australian Green Party and some State Labor Parties maintain policies to prohibit GM crops. Activist groups associated with the conservation lobbies and the organic food industry maintain their rage against GM crops. The organic food peak body, the Organic Federation of Australia, maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on GM presence in crops and produce of all types (not just canola) and even to the land. This policy has led to the one single legal case over coexistence brought by an organic grower over GM canola material blown over a fence onto an organic farm (but with no presence within crop or produce). The case was tried and rejected and it was held that the GM producer was fully entitled to follow his industry standard practices, which including his complying with existing coexistence protocols. The key driver of the uptake of the glyphosate-tolerant GM varieties in use is herbicide resistance, which in Australia and particularly in Western Australian no-till systems represents a global worst case scenario, and includes glyphosate resistance in key weeds. Roundup Ready canola as a component of crop rotation is a valuable tool but it is accepted that it cannot be over-used and that, on balance, growers should rotate Roundup Ready canola with other canola cultivars attuned to different herbicide components as a part of a comprehensive herbicide resistance management framework. The growing of GM and non-GM canola on the same property accentuates the need for strict adherence to coexistence management through the production and marketing chain.

Suggested Citation

  • Alcock, K.T., 2015. "The current status of GM/non-GM canola coexistence in Australian broadacre farming systems and likely future challenges," GMCC-15: Seventh GMCC, November 17-20, 2015, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 211638, International Conference on Coexistence between Genetically Modified (GM) and non-GM based Agricultural Supply Chains (GMCC).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:gmcc15:211638

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    1. Koo, Won W. & Jinding, Lin, 1992. "An Intersectoral Perspective on the Relationship between the Agricultural and Industrial Sectors in Chinese Economic Development," Occasional Paper Series No. 6 197870, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Foster, Kenneth A. & Mwanaumo, Anthony, 1995. "Estimation of dynamic maize supply response in Zambia," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 12(1), April.
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    Australia; canola; coexistence; litigation; Environmental Economics and Policy;

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