Quarterly Update – Edition 4
- Council activity
- Key issues
- In the pipeline
- For information
ABCA UPDATES ONLINE COEXISTENCE RESOURCE
The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia’s (ABCA) mini website, which is focused solely on providing information on the subject of coexistence, has been updated to reflect the outcomes of the Western Australian Supreme Court civil trial of Marsh v. Baxter (further information about the case is provided below).
WA FARMER FORUM
In March, ABCA sponsored a Western Australian Farmers’ Federation forum, “Farming into the Future: Biotechnology and Your Farm”, held in Merredin. The speakers and their topics were:
- Professor Mike Jones, Murdoch University, ‘The science behind GM crops’
- Bob French, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, ‘Production and agronomy considerations’
- Katherine Smart, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, ‘Legislation and regulation in Australia’
- Gavin Bignell, CBH Group, ‘Storage and handling considerations’
- Professor Ian Edwards, EdStar Genetics, ‘Domestic and international marketing considerations’
Information presented at the forum included:
- Argentina is aiming to produce the first GM wheat in 2016. Bioceres in Argentina and the French Company Florimond Desprez have established Trigall Genetics to deliver the product.
- To grow or not grow GM canola is an economic decision. The primary benefit of RR canola is weed control with yield and oil content secondary benefits. Roundup Ready canola is not as attractive in risky low rainfall area because of costs. The East coast experience with GM canola has been largely positive.
- A review of WA’s GM Crops Free Areas Act 2003 will be undertaken this year, and public submissions will be invited. As it currently stands, a statewide ban is in place with exemptions for GM cotton (in the Ord) granted in 2009 and GM canola in 2010.
- No above threshold incidences have occurred in the bulk handling supply chain since the introduction of GM canola in Western Australia. Non-GM canola has been shipped to Europe since the introduction of GM canola, and there have not been any issues. GM canola currently comprises 20-30 per cent of the canola through the Kwinana Port and handling GM and non-GM canola is considered to be no different to segregating malting barley varieties.
ABCA LAUNCHES AGBIOTECH REFERENCE GUIDE
In March, ABCA launched The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops in Canberra at the 14th Annual Science Meets Parliament.
The Guide was developed by ABCA to provide factual, science-based information to contribute to a more informed national discussion about agricultural technologies.
With a rapidly growing world population, a changing climate and growing pressure on natural resources such as water and arable land, agricultural biotechnology is increasingly seen as an important part of the solution to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops provides a comprehensive overview of agricultural biotechnology in Australia and answers common questions about GM crops.
To request hard copies of the Guide, please email email@example.com.
ABCA has issued five Issue Alerts during this period relating to the release of the latest economic and environmental impacts of GM crops globally by PG Economics; the launch of the ABCA booklet, The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops, as outlined above; factually incorrect comments made by the newly appointed South Australian Agriculture Minister, Leon Bignell MP in a radio interview; and, updates in relation to the WA Supreme Court trial of Marsh v. Baxter.
FOLLOW ABCA ON TWITTER
ABCA now has an active twitter profile at @info_ABCA, and the following hash tags are being used to promote the coexistence campaign: #coexistence #gmo #ausag #agchatoz
WA COURT CASE JUDGMENT: CASE DISMISSED
The judgment in the civil trial of Marsh v Baxter was delivered on 28 May. Justice Kenneth Martin has ruled against Steve Marsh, the organic farmer from Kojonup, Western Australia, and has dismissed the case. Mr Marsh and his wife were seeking $85,000 damages plus a permanent injunction against the defendant, Michael Baxter, which would prevent him from growing GM canola in paddocks adjoining their farm in the future.
In late November 2010, Mr Baxter cut, stacked in windrows and left to dry, his GM canola crop from two paddocks. This was before the final phase of the harvesting of the canola seeds from the canola plant seed pods attached to each plant. Some of this swathed canola was blown by the wind into Steve Marsh’s property.
After he found the GM canola on his property in 2010, Mr Marsh was de-certified by the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) and NASAA’s subsidiary certifying organisation NASAA Certified Organic Pty Ltd (NCO). Mr Marsh commenced legal action against his neighbour Mr Baxter in 2012.
Approximately 70 per cent of the Marsh farm was de-certified by NCO (for almost two years), and as a result, Mr Marsh was no longer able to market his cereal crops and meat (lamb) as organic. The decision to decertify the Marsh farm appeared to be based on the GM canola swathes and their seed pods being identified and the perceived risk of scattered GM canola spilling seeds over the soil of the Marsh farm.
The evidence presented by both sides at the trial was that GM canola swathes were physically harmless to persons, animals or land, even if consumed, and that the GM canola only posed a risk of transferring genetic material if a canola seed germinated in the soil on the Marsh farm (as a volunteer canola plant) and then later cross-fertilised through its pollen being exchanged with another compatible species (such as, for instance, with another canola variety).
There was no evidence at the trial of any genetic transference risks posed by the GM canola swathes blown onto the Marsh family farm at the end of 2010. The Marshes had never grown canola.In 2011, eight GM canola plants were found to have grown up as self-sown volunteer plants on the Marsh property. They were identified and pulled out. No more volunteer GM canola plants grew on the property in subsequent years.
The decertification decision against the Marsh’s occurred because NASAA and its certifying status subsidiary corporation, NCO, claimed that the late 2010 airborne swathe incursion and the GM canola seeds scattered across the soil of the Marsh farm, posed an ‘unacceptable risk’ of ‘contamination’. According to Justice Martin, this result was occasioned by the erroneous application of governing NASAA Standards applicable to NASAA organic operators as regards GMOs (genetically modified organisms) at the time.
The Marshes’ two causes of action brought against Mr Baxter for damages were for:
- negligence (ie, for breach of an asserted duty of reasonable care owed to the Marshes to ensure there was no escape of GM material onto their farm) and,
- private nuisance.
The remedies sought by the Marshes were for common law damages and a permanent injunction.
Justice Martin dismissed both the causes of action in common law negligence and private nuisance. The following reasons were given for the decision:
- For private nuisance, his Honour assessed that it had not been shown that there had been any unreasonable interference by Mr Baxter in the Marshes’ use and enjoyment of their property.
- Mr Baxter was not to be held responsible as a broadacre farmer merely for growing a lawful GM crop and choosing to adopt a harvest methodology which was entirely orthodox in its implementation.
- Mr Baxter could not be held responsible, in law, for the reactions to the incursion of Marshes’ organic certification body, NASAA, which in the circumstances presented to be an unjustifiable reaction to what occurred.
- His Honour also rejected the Marshes’ cause of action in common law negligence. The Marshes’ action for exclusively a financial loss, was without precedent. No basis in legal principle was presented to the Court to extend the law to the events in this case.
- Mr Baxter had not been shown to have acted negligently, either by growing or then by swathing the lawfully grown GM canola in 2010.
- The Marshes’ application for a permanent injunction to prevent Mr Baxter from ever again swathing a GM canola crop on his closest paddocks to the Marshes’ property was also denied.
Accordingly, the Marshes’ action against Mr Baxter wholly failed.
Media coverage and commentary
- The Land – Baxter wins GM case
- The Australian – West Australian organic farmer loses court fight against GM neighbour
- The Farm Weekly – Baxter win a ‘step forward’: PGA
- The Guardian – GM crops: organic farmer loses court case over alleged contamination
- The Guardian – Does Australia need laws for ‘biotrespass’ to protect organic farms?
- ABC PM – Landmark legal decision as WA Supreme Court dismisses anti-GM case
- ABC Rural (Audio) – Can GM and organic farming co-exist?
- Forbes – ‘No Such Thing As GMO Contamination’ Rules Australian Court in Landmark Decision, Rebuffing Organic Activists
- CropLife Australia – Longstanding principles of coexistence in farming confirmed
- Safe Food Foundation Media Release – GM Farmer’s win is a loss for all organic farmers
- Australian Organic Ltd Media Release – GM legislation needs reviewing
- The Judgment Summary: www.supremecourt.wa.gov.au/_files/Judgment Summary – Marsh v Baxter (CIV 1561 of 2012) 28 May 2014.pdf
- The Full Judgment: http://decisions.justice.wa.gov.au/supreme/supdcsn.nsf/judgment.xsp?documentId=5B9F82F42842877448257CE600216197&action=openDocument&SessionID=DSPDK9PJ1P
GLOBAL COMMITMENT TO GM WHEAT STILL STRONG
Five years after the release of the inaugural GM Wheat Trilateral Statement, Australia and its global partners in Canada and the United States of America have launched the 2014 GM Wheat Trilateral Statement, which is a renewed commitment for GM wheat research and development, innovation and science-based decision making. The Statement is endorsed by fifteen organisations representing producers and millers from the three countries.
To date, no GM wheat has been commercialised in the world, however, significant research is underway in Australia and around the world to improve wheat varieties.
Australian signatories note their ongoing commitment to work with the grain supply chain to deliver choice, including the supply of non-GM wheat, within reasonable tolerances, to markets that require it.
- www.grainproducerssa.com.au/media/Media Releases/140606 Media Release – Australia GM Wheat Trilateral Statement.pdf
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE USA
Residents in the Jackson and Josephine Counties in Oregon’s Rogue Valley have voted to ban GM crops from the area.
According to the legislation, those who grow GM crops in Jackson or Josephine have a year to harvest or destroy them or face financial penalties. Observers and officials expect both bans to end up in court.
Media reports state that at least a dozen places around the nation have adopted GM crop bans or limits, including areas of California, Hawaii, Maine and Washington state. However, unlike Oregon’s Rogue Valley, most of those counties did not have GM crops growing before the bans. The bans are expected to impact the production of GM herbicide tolerant sugarbeets.
A concerted push is also taking place in the USA to introduce GM food and ingredient labelling laws, similar to those which have existed for years in the European Union, Australia and numerous other countries.
In May, Vermont, became the first US state to mandate GM food labelling. The law, set to take effect in 2016, sets the stage for other states that are currently considering mandatory labeling of such GMO foods according to media reports.
Both the food and agriculture industries will continue to fight the mandatory labelling of GMOs. They say their products are proven safe, and that such labels will imply they are unsafe, confuse consumers and increase costs for consumers as well as farmers and food companies.
The Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association are backing a proposed federal law that would nullify Vermont’s labeling law and any other mandatory labeling of GMOs in the United States.
“We support consistent and consumer-centric labeling of food based on facts, not politically motivated, costly and misguided schemes that may lead toward a 50-state patchwork of confusing GMO labeling policies,” said Teresa Paulsen, a spokeswoman for the Omaha, Nebraska-based company, KRAFT.
GLOBAL GMO FREE COALITION LAUNCHED
A new coalition against GM foods and crops, the Global GMO Free Coalition (GGFC), has been launched. The GGFC promises to send experts to where they are needed anywhere around the globe and will utilise a Rapid Media Response Team and coordinated public relations campaigns with celebrity and media involvement.
The Safe Food Foundation and Gene Ethics, Australia’s most vocal and well-funded anti-GM bodies are listed as partners.
GM SALMON AND GM APPLES – COMMERCIAL APPROVALS PENDING
Commercial approvals for a fast-growing GM salmon developed by AquaBounty and a non-browning apple developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits remain pending in the USA. Announcements are expected at anytime.
GM CANOLA GROWER EXPERIENCES
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) recently released the results of a survey of more than 1300 growers regarding their experiences with GM canola. The survey examined adoption patterns; agronomic, economic and environmental impacts; and changes in attitude to the concerns regarding co-existence of GM and non-GM canola production systems.
Key findings of the survey include:
- When compared to Triazine Tolerant (TT) canola, growers utilising GM canola achieved more effective weed control, reduced overall pesticide use and improved farming practices (such as enhanced conservation tillage), lower risk of herbicide resistance developing and a lower environmental foot print.
- Effective weed control, in particular control of priority weeds such as herbicide tolerant annual ryegrass and wild radish were primary reasons cited for growing GM canola.
- Over the three-year survey period, there was no significant difference in canola yields reported between GM and non GM canola.
- Overall GM canola growers were more likely to use conservation tillage practices than non GM canola growers.
- On average the cost of weed control using GM herbicide tolerant canola was higher than that of alternate non GM canola weed management programs.
- The economic impacts of GM canola were variable due to the initial lack of access to GM canola varieties adapted to the major canola growing regions, the cost of access to the GM technology and grain marketing/ logistic issues.
- Concerns relating to co-existence failed to materialise with the majority of GM canola and non GM canola growers reporting no impacts on their farming operations.
- The issue of coexistence has not influenced farmers’ choice in opting to grow GM canola or whether to increase the area of GM canola grown.
- GM and non GM growers participating in the survey indicated that they would increase their adoption of GM canola in the future.
- The major barrier to adoption of GM canola is the perceived lack of economic value derived from the Roundup Ready® canola technology package (i.e. the cost of access + the cost of weed control + yield + farm gate grain price + logistics costs) when compared to the established economic value of the alternate non GM weed control management system options.
GM CROPS AND THEIR ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
UK-based PG Economics have released their annual report on the impacts of GM crops and it outlines significant economic and environmental benefits, and unparalleled improvement in farmer incomes.
Australian farmers growing GM crops have gained US$766 million according to the report. Other key points in the report are:
- In 2012, Australian GM canola growers realised an average farm income gain of US$47.5 per hectare and a total farm income gain of US$8.3 million. Australian GM cotton farmers realised a total farm income gain of US$129.2 million in 2012 and used 54 per cent less insecticide in GM cotton than what they would have used if only conventional varieties had been planted.
- If crop biotechnology had not been available to the 17.3 million farmers using the technology in 2012, maintaining global production at the 2012 levels would have required additional plantings equivalent to 32 per cent of the arable land in Australia. That’s more than 15 million hectares of forest and natural habitat not used for agricultural purposes.
- The net economic benefit at the farm level in 2012 was $18.8 billion, equal to an average increase in income of $117/hectare. For the 17-year period (1996-2012), the global farm income gain has been $116.6 billion.
- Crop biotechnology has contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices resulting from less fuel use and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage with GM crops. In 2012, this was equivalent to removing 27 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 11.9 million cars – 69 per cent of the cars registered in Australia – from the road for one year.
- Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying globally (1996-2012) by 503 million kg (-8.8 per cent).
- Between 1996 and 2012, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 122 million tonnes of soybeans and 231 million tonnes of corn globally. The technology has also contributed an extra 18.2 million tonnes of cotton lint and 6.6 million tonnes of canola.
ISSUE PAPER: GM FOOD LABELLING IN THE USA
The USA, unlike Australia, has not implemented a national mandatory labelling regime in relation to the presence of GM content in foodstuffs. With some states in the USA now considering legislation to mandate such labels, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released an Issue Paper titled, The potential impacts of mandatory labelling for genetically engineered food in the United States. The paper examines arguments for and against GM food labeling, the costs involved, and experiences in countries that use mandatory labeling. Some of the conclusions are:
- Mandatory labeling based on process abandons the traditional US practice of providing for consumer food preferences through voluntary product differentiation and labelling.
- Market-driven voluntary labeling measures currently provide consumers with non-GM choices in the US marketplace.
- Current labeling authority is federal; state mandatory labeling laws may be invalidated for conflicting with preemptive federal authority and may also violate First Amendment rights. Litigation seems a likely outcome if states pass mandatory labeling laws.
- Labeling at the national level has trade implications and needs to be harmonised with international trade agreements that frown on mandatory labeling for a production process when there is no scientific evidence that the process relates to food safety.
- Mandatory GM food labelling would increase food costs.
- Independent objective information on the scientific issues and the possible legal ramifications and economic consequences of mandatory GM food labels needs to be provided to legislators and consumers to encourage fact-based dialog.
FAO REPORT ON GM CROP TRADE
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has released a report which found that the increased production of GM crops around the globe has led to a higher number of incidents of low levels of GMOs being detected in traded food and feed. The incidents have led to trade disruptions between countries with shipments of grain, cereal and other crops being blocked by importing countries and destroyed or returned to the country of origin.
There is no international agreement defining or quantifying “low level”, therefore the interpretation varies from country to country. In most countries, there are no generally applicable low-level GMO policies, legislation or regulations yet in place. Different options have been used when setting such policy, including a zero tolerance policy, a low threshold policy and a case-by-case policy.
The report is the result of a survey of 75 FAO member countries, and it forms the basis of future discussions on the issue of low level GM content and minimising the impacts on global food and feed trade.
USA GOVT REPORT ON GM CROP EXPERIENCE
The US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, has recently released a report titled, Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops by US Farmers Has Increased Steadily for Over 15 Years
The report states that GM crops (mainly corn, cotton, and soybeans) were planted on 169 million acres in 2013, about half of US land used for crops, and that the adoption of GM crops has saved farmers time, reduced insecticide use, and enabled the use of less toxic herbicides.
The authors state that acceptance of GM crops by farmers has been due, in large part, to the pest management traits incorporated into GM seeds. Farmers were willing to adopt GM crops because their benefits exceeded their costs, while domestic consumers were largely indifferent to these traits.
While relatively few GM traits are currently commercially available, the number of field releases to test GM varieties approved by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service continues to highlight concerted interest in the research and development of GM crops. The number of field releases grew from four in 1985 to 1,194 in 2002 and in the past decade it has averaged at around 800 per year.
Traits in the pipeline are listed as: herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, traits that provide favorable agronomic properties (resistance to cold/drought/frost/salinity, more efficient use of nitrogen, increased yield); enhanced product quality, such as delayed ripening, flavor and texture (fruits and vegetables); increased protein or carbohydrate content, fatty acid content, or micronutrient content; modified starch, color (cotton, flowers), fiber properties (cotton), or gluten content (wheat); naturally decaffeinated (coffee); and nutraceuticals (added vitamins, iron, antioxidants such as beta-carotene).
ATO EYES ANTI-GM ORGANISATIONS
According to media reports the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will investigate whether two anti-biotechnology lobby groups are conducting legitimate fundraising activities as a registered charity.
During recent Senate estimates hearings in Canberra, concerns were raised about the charitable status of the Safe Food Foundation (SFF) and Gene Ethics, particularly the groups’ ongoing fundraising activities, in connection to the WA Supreme Court case involving organic farmer Steve Marsh.
The SFF has raised about $750,000 to assist Mr Marsh’s case while Slater & Gordon Lawyers are acting on his behalf pro-bono. The Senate committee were told that evidence existed showing that Friends of the Earth – a charitable institution endorsed as a deductible gift recipient (DGR) – were being “used openly” by the Safe Food Foundation and Gene Ethics to collect donations on their behalf.
“Is the ATO satisfied that Friends of the Earth have met the requirements to act as an agent for these other organisations?” asked SA Liberal Senator Sean Edwards.
The ATO is looking into the matter.
COEXISTENCE POSSIBLE BUT ORGANIC STANDARDS MAKE IT DIFFICULT
Coexistence between organic farmers and those that grow GM crops is a big challenge but it is possible in Australia according to Nuffield Scholar and Western Australian farmer Jemma Sadler.
Supported by the GRDC, Ms Sadler recently travelled to a number of countries looking at how the industries worked with each other. While she says the two can coexist, she suggests the strict zero tolerance standard for the presence of GM material in Australian organic produce may need to be relaxed if the organic industry is to survive.
AUSTRALIA TO ADDRESS LOW LEVEL GM PRESENCE
The Federal Government Department of Health has called for tenders relating to the development of a framework for the management of the potential low level presence of genetically modified organisms. This framework will involve the development of possible scenarios including discussion of key issues, relevant stakeholders and potential management activities and will identify key points where decisions, actions or responses may be required and what these may be.
Delivery of the project is listed as April – June 2014.
NEW GM COTTONS COMING
The third phase of GM insect resistant cottons are expected to be commercially available in the 2015-16 season. The three-gene, insect-resistant Bollgard III lines of cotton will take over from the highly successful, two-gene Bollgard II.
The introduction of GM, insect-resistant cottons – which started with Ingard in 1996 and Bollgard II in 2004 – is credited with reducing insecticide application rates in the industry by 80 percent.
GM PLANTS NEEDED TO MEET OMEGA-3 DEMAND
According to a research review published in Current Opinion of Biotechnology, increasing demand for the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA means industry must consider land-based sources including microalgae and GM plants.
The authors of the review from the University of Queensland said that GM plants may play an important role in the future production of these long chain fatty acids currently sourced from globally depleting fishstocks.
TASMANIA AND SOUTH AUSTRALIAN ELECTION RESULTS
The Tasmanian and South Australian state elections were both held in March. The Liberal Party is now in power in Tasmania after winning 15 seats, with seven going to Labor and three to the Greens. Will Hodgman is the new Premier and Jeremy Rockliff is the Minister for Primary Industries and Water.
In South Australia, a Labor minority government has formed with the support of Independent MP Geoff Brock. The Labor Party had won 23 seats in the election, while the Liberal Party had won 22. Twenty-four seats were needed to form a minority government.
Mr Brock is now the Minister for Regional Development and the Minister for State and Government Local Relations in the new Labor government.
The new agriculture minister is Leon Bignell, and he has already made his position against GM crops well known, questioning their health impacts and controversially likening them to tobacco and asbestos. He was also widely criticised by South Australian farmers and his federal counterparts for recently attending a ‘March against Monsanto’ rally in Adelaide.
GM RESEARCH IN HORTICULTURE
Horticulture Australia is funding biotechnology research projects through the Queensland University of Technology which will focus on cisgenics and RNAi technologies leading to the development of marker-free genetic transformations systems in vegetatively propagated crops, which essentially means modifying the plant using genes from its own species.
Initially, the target crops will be bananas and potatoes as they are among the top 10 crops in the world; however the platform technologies will have potential to be shared in other crops across the horticulture industry.
The researchers hope the method will help shift negative public perceptions of GM foods as no outside genetic material is being introduced into the plant using the methods proposed.
Research will also be conducted into discovering techniques to provide stability of introduced genes across generations.
“This project aims to build capacity for the horticulture industry to be ready for future challenges,” said Alok Kumar, Horticulture Australia’s Breeding and Biotechnology Portfolio Manager.
UK EXPERT PANEL URGES REGULATORY CHANGE
The UK Government’s Council for Science and Technology is calling for changes to the way GM foods and crops are regulated in the European Union.
Currently in the European Union each new GM crop is assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and crops are only approved for planting in Europe if a majority of EU states agree. This agreement is rare. As a result, since 1998 only one GM crop, a variety of maize has been approved for planting, compared to the US, where 96 approvals have occurred since 1990.
In a report titled, GM Science Update, the Council argue that GM crops have been used safely for decades, so no longer need to be automatically treated as unsafe, and, that that it would be better if each country had its own regulator. That way, if EFSA approves a crop, nations could decide whether to allow it to be grown on their land.
According to the report, the extra regulatory requirements for GM crops can add as much as $20 million to the cost of getting a crop approved and as a result only multinational companies can afford the approval process.
NEW BIOTECH CROP ALLIANCE FORMALISED IN THE USA
The inaugural board meeting for the US Biotech Crops Alliance (USBCA) was held at the end of May. At the meeting, USBCA members elected a formal executive committee and adopted a business plan and operating structure.
The alliance aims to improve the environment for technology innovation and the market for U.S agricultural products, and its mission statement is to “successfully execute USBCA plans by coordinating and informing US value chain efforts that encourage policy and commercial practices affecting the development, purchase, marketing and shipment of agricultural products derived from biotechnology.”
The USBCA’s founding organisations are the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, American Seed Trade Association, Biotechnology Industry Organisation, National Grain and Feed Association, and North American Export Grain Association.
Other national organisations which have joined the alliance are the American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Millers’ Association, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, US Canola Association, US Grains Council and US Soybean Export Council.
USA FARMERS – COEXISTENCE CAN WORK
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the biggest farming group in the US, has backed moves to promote coexistence between organic and GM crop growing farmers according to a news report. American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman reportedly dismissed suggestions of widespread legal disputes between the two farming groups as “merely the product of an activist agenda”.
The Farm Bureau’s members supports the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) aim to foster communication and collaboration to strengthen coexistence among farmers as part of the recommendations contained in a report from the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21).
BIO INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Date: 23-26 June 2014
Details: The BIO International Convention is hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centres and related organisations across the USA and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. Key speakers at the event are Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former Head of State, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY CONGRESS
Location: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Date: 10-15 August 2014
Details: The food security challenge of doubling food production has become a daunting task to feed a world with an expected population of over 9 billion people by 2050. Production must double in a sustainable and resource use efficient manner using less water, less fossil fuel and less nitrogen, on approximately the same area of arable land and the challenges associated with climate variability and change must be considered. In addition, alleviating global poverty, hunger and malnutrition must be a focus. The outcomes of research and development in plant biotechnology are contributing to harvests of hope. However, the growing of GM crops remains controversial in parts of the world. This highlights the need for our ongoing engagement in dialogue with those that do not practice the science of plant biotechnology or develop products from plant biotechnology to enhance general public understanding of the technology and address any concerns.
AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 2014
Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Date: 5-8 October 2014
Details: The themes for the conference are innovation for global food security, strategies for agriculture innovation, and, leadership for successful innovation. Speakers include: Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug and Associate Director of External Relations, Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M; Dr John Buchanan, CEO, Center for Aquaculture Technologies; Lawrence Kent, Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Professor Emeritus Ingo Potrykus, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
Disclaimer: The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia Limited (ABCA) gives no warranty and makes no representation that the information contained in these sections is suitable for any purpose or is free from error. ABCA accepts no responsibility for any person acting or relying upon the information contained in these sections, and disclaims all liability.