Op-ed on GM

Miranda Divine: We must cotton on to the green con.

Interesting alternative take on GM crops in Australia, if you can get past the language: calling opposition to GM crops “idiocy” isn’t the best way to put forward an argument, particularly given the types of concerns being raised are grounded in both experience and research.

Her points contradict information I have read about the use of poly-cultures and organic farming techniques to reduce pesticide use dramatically (if not entirely), and also fly in the face of our collective experience about “miracle” products such as DDT etc. in the past. This, I think, is probably a big part of the consumer concern.

Although I’m sure some greenies may be asking for a blanket ban, I think most are saying “the jury is still out – we need more information from long-term trials in controlled environments”. Certainly that’s my take on things. That’s a far cry from the “a Luddite scare campaign” that Miranda claims.

There is also a big concern about labelling and separation of crops. The concerns are that a) labelling laws won’t give consumers the information required to make an informed choice; and b) if GM crops are not planted in controlled environments, that even farmers that choose not to grow GM crops will not be able to guarantee they are GM free. One of the big concerns about GM canola is the plan to allow crops to be planted with an “isolation zone” of 50 metres of non-GM canola, and notice is only to be given to land owners within a 400 metre radius. This seems too close to ensure adequate separation, particularly when I recall figures in the range of kilometres cited in the past (although I can’t remember exactly where).

And it’s not just green groups – the Australian Democrats have been critical of the government regulator’s handling of the issue as well.