A long-term trial has demonstrated the potential yield and profit advantages that a genetically modified (GM) canola variety offers Australian grain growers, leading to a call to lift the current moratorium on growing GM canola commercially in Australia.
Conducted by Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) Professor Jim Pratley at the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation at Wagga Wagga, NSW, the yield and economic performance of a GM herbicide tolerant canola variety was compared with conventional canola varieties over a typical five-year crop rotation system. [see notes on the trial below
Professor Pratley believes this is the first long-term crop system research undertaken to evaluate GM herbicide tolerant canola in crop rotations under Australian field conditions.
“GM herbicide tolerant canola has been widely grown in Canada since 1996, and made up 82 per cent, or 4.3 million hectares, of the 2005 crop. However, it has not been assessed in long-term Australian conservation farming systems, until now.”
“In the research undertaken at CSU, Roundup Ready® canola consistently delivered superior weed control, higher yields and oil quality and better profits when compared to current common canola varieties grown under conventional weed management systems.
“Moreover, there was better weed control throughout the five year crop rotation using Roundup Ready canola in the first year of the rotation, and any subsequent volunteer canola was also easily controlled,” he said.
Professor Pratley said the project was conducted under the strict protocols and conditions applied by the national Office of the Gene Technology Regulator to obtain local data on the performance of the GM variety in Australia.
He said there is much to be gained by allowing the commercial production of GM canola.
“Repealing the current moratoria will significantly advantage canola growers and allow them to capture the efficiency and economic benefits of technology that their Canadian competitors have exploited for over ten years.”
In submitting the study to the NSW, Victorian and South Australian Government’s GM moratoria Review Panels, the CSU researchers recommended, “the Government repeal the current moratorium on the commercial scale growing of GM canola, as a matter of priority.”
This view supports the position of the broader grains industry published in the document, Delivering market choice with GM canola
. Endorsed by 29 organisations representing all sectors of the grain supply chain, the document outlines the processes and protocols by which industry would manage GM canola if the State moratoria are lifted.