Cotton Australia

Biotechnology position

Cotton Australia supports a flexible approach in the production methods available to cotton growers. Cotton Australia believes that members of the cotton industry should have the right to choose from a range of technologies and production management systems that will contribute to enhanced sustainability and lead to the minimisation of environmental impact. This may include the use of the products of genetic engineering, where it can be conclusively shown to enhance sustainable cotton production in appropriate cotton growing areas.

Cotton Australia recognises the need for the industry to be mindful of the social, economic and environmental management demands of the wider marketplace and that the industry will work to have appropriate responses and partnerships implemented in an effort to respond to such demands, provided that the proposed response is fully researched and complies with current legislation.

Cotton Australia recognises that the application of the precautionary principle[1] may cause some uses of biotechnology to be judged as inappropriate for economic, environmental or social reasons.

Cotton Australia will, when considering the benefits and risks of biotechnology:

  • Actively seek both internal and external stakeholder advice on how to use biotechnology most effectively, ensuring that the technology can be properly used in an integrated, sustainable-management system and seek the help of these stakeholders in continuously updating policy development in this area;
  • Support the use of biotechnology where there are demonstrated to be significant benefits for growers (e.g. production, reduced pesticide use), the environment, human health and the end user;
  • Consult with internal and external stakeholders about appropriate research and ensure that the information and knowledge gained is made available to the public in an understandable and balanced way to fill the gap that presently exists in the understanding of such food, seed and fibre products;
  • Work in close collaboration with the wider agricultural community, local communities, end users and environmental group stakeholders, to develop a set of measures to track the effectiveness of the application of this technology throughout the industry. Specifically, to take precautionary measures to prevent key impacts such as,
    • Cross contamination of conventional, organic or native relatives of cotton;
    • Weed, insect and technical resistance;
    • Yield losses;
    • Increases in overall pesticide usage;
    • Loss of crop or product quality;
    • Any other relevant issue as may arise; and,
  • Actively promote the adoption of a wider (IPM) system throughout the industry, which may include this gene technology as a component, where it is demonstrated that it can be used sustainably and without negative environmental, public health or safety impacts.

Cotton Australia will actively encourage, support and participate in any efforts initiated by agricultural industries arising from a carefully considered social, economic and environmental approach, as outlined, to inform the wider community of the identified benefits/costs of using the products of biotechnology in agriculture.

[1] The Precautionary Principle as Interpreted by Cotton Australia and agreed by Genethics – Lack of full scientific certainty about the risks, hazards and costs of using genetically engineered organisms cannot be used as a pretext for failing to take measures or make decisions to protect public health and safety, and the environment.