November 17, 2008 


West Australian farm lobbies want GM cotton move broadened


Farmer lobbies in Western Australia want a state government decision to allow commercial planting of genetically modified cotton in the northern Ord River irrigation area to be a precursor to broader use of GM technology in crops.


The state's agriculture and food minister Terry Redman lifted a ban on commercial GM cotton growing in the area after 10 years of trials found no agronomic problems or environmental concerns with the product, clearing the way to bring a "major new profitable industry" for the state.


The decision to allow commercial production of GM cotton in the Ord River area provides growers operating in eastern states with a new area well supplied with water all year, and the industry with renewed opportunities in the state after non-GM cotton trials in the 1970s were overwhelmed by pests, Redman said in a statement issued Friday (November, 14).


Pastoralists and graziers association lobby spokesman Leon Bradley said lifting the ban on GM cotton use in the area signals the end of a "technological dark age" for agriculture in the state.


He said that  they are hoping this is a signal not only for Kimberley producers to proceed to harvest the substantial benefits of GM cotton, but also for grain producers in the agricultural areas to be able to grow GM canola and other crops sooner than later.


Minister Redman said the government is considering expanding the Ord River irrigation area to more than 50,000 hectares of cropped land from 13,000 hectares now.


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