Latest Biotech News


Dr Joe Smith Welcomed as New Chair of ABCA

 

DR JOE SMITH WELCOMED AS NEW CHAIR OF ABCA

15 February 2022

The executive of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) is delighted to announce Dr Joe Smith as its new Chair.

Dr Smith brings to the role high-level regulatory scientific expertise and leadership which will further support ABCA continuing to provide credible, balanced and science-based information about the current and potential benefits of agricultural biotechnology for the nation’s farming sector.

As former national Gene Technology Regulator, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and Director of the Therapeutic Goods Administration Laboratories, Dr Smith has had an extensive and distinguished career leading key Australian regulatory authorities.

On a global scale, Dr Smith has been actively engaged in the significant issues of biotechnology and agricultural chemicals regulation through forums such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and World Health Organisation. He is also currently President of the International Society for Biosafety Research, an organisation that brings together researchers, technology developers, industry, regulators and non-government organisations to engage in meaningful dialogue about cutting-edge biotechnology and biosafety research, risk analysis, policy, regulation and communication.

The appointment of someone with such standing speaks to the important role of ABCA in improving accessibility of new agricultural biotechnology innovations to deliver a more sustainable, productive and profitable future for Australian agriculture.

“It’s an honour to be able to continue to serve the sector at a time of great opportunity for Australian agriculture and food security, said Dr Smith.

“It’s vital that the Australian farming sector can access and adopt new technologies in an environment where there is good awareness of the science and realistic appreciation of risk. For this to happen there needs to be open and transparent dialogue.

“At its core, ABCA encourages informed debate about agricultural biotechnology so that the public and particularly primary producers can make well-informed decisions about the future application of biotechnology in Australia,” concluded Dr Smith.

Dr Smith will be supported by ABCA’s secretariat, founding members, council members and Patrons, The Hon. John Anderson AO and Professor Adrienne Clarke AC.

The executive also thanks Mr Ken Matthews AO who was ABCA’s independent chairman of for eight years and acknowledges his commitment and significant contribution to ensuring science and evidence-based information about agricultural biotechnology is widely available.

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Promoting science and evidence in the gene technology debate

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) has launched the fourth edition of its Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops (the Guide) at the National Press Club in Canberra.

Chairman of ABCA, Ken Matthews AO, said, “In an increasingly alarming world of fake news, alternative facts, disinformation, disdain for experts, suspicion of science, opinions trumping evidence, and blindly partisan position-taking, we need more reliable, accessible, and factual inputs to public debate on matters of science.”

The Guide was developed in conjunction with an expert national scientific panel and world leading specialists in the field. It provides credible, balanced, science-based information on agricultural biotechnology to allow for informed decisions about the application, uses and future of agricultural biotechnology in Australia, and a better understanding of its benefits and safety.

Mr Matthews continued, “The world’s population is growing quickly and is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Food production will need to double to feed the world. Finding double the area of land for global crop production is simply not realistic, doubling inputs is not feasible and finding double the amount of water is impossible.

“Global agriculture needs to innovate, not simply duplicate and agricultural biotechnology is increasingly recognised as a critical part of the solution.”

The Guide, now in its fourth edition, has evolved to include the latest technology developments in agricultural biotechnology with a focus on the role gene-editing will play in agriculture and beyond. The guide also follows the evolution of consumer attitudes, in Australia and globally, and gives voices to farmers who are the experts at growing what feeds our nation.

“When considering the growth and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture industry, especially while facing unprecedented environmental challenges, Australian farmers must remain committed to integrating science and technology in farming practices,” said Mr Matthews.

“Too often, agriculture is viewed as yesterday’s industry, or worse – a legacy industry imposing environmental costs on a fragile Australian landscape. That’s not the agriculture I know and care about. More and more Australian farms are capital intensive, R&D driven, environmentally conscious, nimble, technologically advanced, and entrepreneurial.

“This is the agriculture industry that exists and must be promoted. Just as people concerned about climate change urge us to listen to the science, so too should the science and evidence be front and centre in the gene technology debate.”

Download the Guide here.


Analysis Shows There Are No Price Premiums Under the South Australian GM Crop Moratorium

A report titled ‘Analysis of price premiums under the South Australian GM moratorium’ released today provides clear facts and evidence that the moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in South Australia does not deliver price premiums to any farmer in the state and if repealed, would not cause any loss to non-GM farmers.

The report by independent expert market analysts Mecardo, commissioned by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) and Grain Producers South Australia, has been released to provide facts and evidence on the presumed trade and marketing premiums achieved by farmers through the South Australian ban on GM crops in what to date has been a discussion based on hearsay and anecdotes.

The analysis compares, on a ‘like for like’ basis, agricultural commodity prices in South Australia against comparable markets in states where the cultivation of GM crops is permissible, such as Victoria and Western Australia. To ensure a thorough examination of the presumed premiums available to food and fibre producers in South Australia, the report analyses a wide range of agricultural commodities based on the value to the South Australian economy.

In direct comparison with similar markets in Victoria and Western Australia, where both GM and non-GM crops are grown, South Australian farmers do not achieve higher prices for their non-GM canola, wheat, barley, wine grapes, wool, cattle, or sheep and lamb. The report is clear that should the ban on GM crops be removed, non-GM farmers would not be affected in any way.

With a GM crop moratorium in place in the state, Mecardo’s analysis provides evidence that not only is the ban not facilitating South Australian farmers achieving any price premiums, but farmers also don’t have the opportunity to experience the economic and environmental benefits of growing safe and approved genetically modified canola.

The report is further evidence that co-existence between non-GM and GM farmers is working in Australia and that different production systems can exist side-by-side. The strength and diversity of Australian agriculture brings great value to our country. This exists because of the range of farming systems we are allowed to use. If only one system could flourish this would seriously damage the sector as a whole. There is room for all.

ABCA’s mission is to ensure that the public policy and regulatory environment is guided by scientifically credible and factually correct information regarding the full benefits that agricultural biotechnology offers to Australian farming as the world’s farming sector seeks to double production to meet the food and nutritional requirements of the growing global population.

To download your copy of the report ‘Analysis of price premiums under the South Australian GM moratorium’ visit www.abca.com.au


ABCA launches new edition of Agricultural Biotechnology Guide

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) launched the third edition of The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops at the AusBiotech AusAg & Foodtech Summit in Adelaide.

Mr Ken Matthews AO, ABCA Chairman said that although the role of agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops in meeting production and sustainability challenges is widely recognised by farmers, public discussion is not always based on factual and accessible information.

“This updated Guide provides independent, factual, science-based information to contribute to a more informed national discussion about agricultural biotechnologies,” said Mr Matthews.

The third edition of the Guide was developed using the latest scientifically valid data and reviewed by ABCA’s Expert Scientific Panel, which is chaired by Dr TJ Higgins from the CSIRO. The Guide covers the science, performance, safety and regulation of commercialised GM crops as well as products in the pipeline. This updated edition of the Guide highlights the evolution of plant breeding innovations, such as genome editing using CRISPR-Cas9.

“Australia’s agriculture sector is a significant exporter, employer and driver of rural and regional communities. The uptake of innovative and emerging agricultural biotechnologies allows the sector to remain competitive and innovative in the face of global challenges like a changing climate and a reduction in arable land,” said Mr Matthews.

A record 185.1 million hectares of GM crops were grown globally in 2016, and 60 per cent of the world’s population live in the 26 countries growing GM crops. Despite the widespread adoption by farmers, the technology continues to stimulate considerable community discussion.

“Public policy and a regulatory environment that is guided by scientifically credible and factually correct information on agricultural biotechnology is crucial as Australian farmers and the world’s farming sector seek to double production of food, feed and fibre to meet the nutritional demand of a growing global population.”

In addition to providing factual information on agricultural biotechnology, the third edition of the Guide answers common questions about GM crops and clearly outlines the regulatory arrangements and food safety assessment requirements.

The Guide also presents information on ways to enable continued coexistence between GM and non-GM farming systems and features cases studies of Australian farmers growing GM crops.

The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops is available online at www.abca.com.au


ABCA launches second edition of GM Guide at Parliament House

25 March 2015

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) has launched the second edition of The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops during the 15th annual Science Meets Parliament event in Canberra.

The launch of the Guide was a focus of the Council’s first bi-annual meeting this year held at Parliament House in Canberra today. The meeting was opened by the Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Nationals Member for Riverina, and it was addressed by the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP.

The updated booklet provides factual information about GM crops based on scientific evidence. Topics covered include the science, performance, safety and regulation of GM crops as well as products in the pipeline and the commercial and market realities. The guide also gives a voice to farmers actually using GM crops and answers some common questions regarding stockfeed, the organisations involved in GM crop research, and food safety.

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.

Over the past 19 years over 4.5 billion acres of biotech crops have been planted across 20 developing and eight industrialised countries representing more than 60 percent of the world’s population. This 100-fold increase makes biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times.

Despite the widespread adoption by farmers, the technology continues to stimulate considerable community debate. Through the Guide, ABCA aims to inform the debate by providing factual information that is supported by a scientific panel of independent experts.

Importantly, the Guide also presents information on coexistence in farming and the on-farm management practices and systems currently in place that maintain the integrity of both GM and non-GM crops. The long track record of farmers using different agricultural production methods alongside each other both here and overseas reaffirm that all agricultural production methods can and should work to coexist to deliver the best of Australian agriculture.

Credible, balanced information on agricultural biotechnology such as The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops will help to encourage informed debate and evidence-based decision-making. The Guide is available online at www.abca.com.au


ABCA launches agbiotech reference guide

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) launched The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops today in Canberra at the 14th Annual Science Meets Parliament.

The ABCA has developed the Guide 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.

In 2013, more than 18 million farmers in 27 countries planted GM crops across 175 million hectares. Since their commercialisation 18 years ago, GM crops have been planted across an accumulated 1.6 billion hectares. Despite this widespread and rapid uptake, the technology continues to stimulate considerable community debate.

ABCA’s vision is that the Australian farming sector can, within a world class regulatory regime, access and adopt this technology to improve food security and deliver a competitive farming sector and sustainable environment. Credible, balanced information will help to deliver these outcomes by encouraging informed debate and soundly based decision-making.

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.

Importantly, the Guide also presents information on coexistence in farming and the on-farm management practices and systems currently in place that maintain the integrity of both GM and non-GM crops.

Download the guide here.