GM wheat testing in Australia (24/6/2007)

Comment from Mark Griffiths of nlpwessex: One of the more insidious GM developments. Once the world's wheat supply becomes contaminated with GM DNA there will be no escape from the involuntary consumption of GM food throughout the globe.

Ironically Australia is taking these measures in response to the drought situation in the country. Yet Australia has refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

Australia is in effect adopting a policy of 'carbon pollute and GM contaminate'. This is a downward spiral of self-compounding mistakes which can only risk the further devastation of Australia.

The most appropriate response to these problems is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the adoption of sustainable soil and water management measures (see second article below). But don't expect the government in this 'rotting brain' land of surging alcohol abuse (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6708533.stm ) to wake up to an intelligent analysis of the situation any time soon.

Welcome to the finest dustbowl the 'let's not tackle the problem at source' biotech industry has to offer.

The main hope lies with those Australians who 'get it', who understand the principles of sustainable agriculture - as the success of the use of integrated pest management (IPM) systems in Australian cotton growing compared with 'high tech' systems has already demonstrated (see 'Cotton Word' magazine, 27 April 2001 - "What these surveys are showing is that there doesn't seem to be much relationship between yield and dollars spent on pest management. When you compare IPM fields with conventional management, IPM is coming out in front by up to a few hundred dollars per hectare", Bruce Pyke, research and extension manager for the Cotton Research and Development Corporation - http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/ipmpays.htm).

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Australia gives go-ahead for GM wheat testing

By Charlotte Eyre

6/20/2007- The first ever Australian field trials of genetically modified wheat will take place in Victoria this year, as the government aims to fight possible food shortages caused by drought.

The trials were approved by the federal gene technology regulator, who granted 'the limited and controlled release of GM wheat lines containing introduced genes for drought tolerance,' according to a government report.

In the last few years, changing weather conditions have threatened Australian stocks, and grain value is expected to undergo about a 21 per cent rise over last year to AUS$273 (€166) tonnes, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).

"Already, the current drought in Australia has meant yield reductions of up to 50 per cent," said keith Jones from Croplife International. "GM foods are exactly the technology that may be necessary to counter the effects of global warming."

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries will conduct the trials, evaluating the agronomic performance of the GM lines under rain-fed, drought prone conditions.

The crops will be grown at two sites in the local government areas of Horsham and Mildura, Victoria, on a maximum total area of 0.315 hectares, according to the report.

Scientists will trial up to 30 GM wheat lines, each containing genes for drought tolerance derived from maize, thale cross, moss or yeast.

The GM debate has become more heated as of late, with many governments and wildlife organisations clashing over the use of GM food.

In April, Croplife International accused the food industry of failing to adapt sustainable crop techniques to protect against the effects of climate change, and argued that GM foods may be the only way of sustaining future agriculture.

Earlier this month Peter Mandelson added his voice to the pro-GM lobby, encouraging the EU to explore the options provided by GM trade.

He warned that if Europe did not work through the issues raised by genetically modified food it will not be working in its own interests, and will open itself up to economic risks.

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100-Year Drought Is No Match for Organic Soybeans.
Scientific Trials at The Rodale Institute Give Hope to Farmers Everywhere

KUTZTOWN, Penn., (November 8, 1999) -After one of the worst droughts on record, the harvest for many farms in the U.S. has been a disaster. One farm is celebrating, however. "Despite a 100-year drought, the yield from our organic soybeans is outstanding," says Jeff Moyer, Farm Manager at The Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial®) (FST) in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Using replicated plots the trial compares highly productive, intensive soybean systems under conventional and organic management. Figures just released show yields of 30 bushels per acre from legume-based organic soybeans compared to only 16 bushels per acre from conventionally-grown crops. Improved soil quality under organic management is credited for the high performance of Rodale's organic crops during this year's unusual drought.

"These are very significant findings for farmers around the world," says Moyer. "Our trials show that improving the quality of the soil through organic practices can mean the difference between a harvest or hardship in times of drought," he said. Pennsylvania was just one of fourteen states declared drought disaster areas by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture Secretary, Dan Glickman this summer. With only 4.4 inches of rain in Kutztown from June through August compared to an average of 13.4 inches in normal years, The Rodale Institute's organic soybean yield is even more impressive.

Initiated in 1981, the FST® is currently funded by the Rodale Institute in cooperation with United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS.) The trial's manure-based organic soybean plots also performed well above the level of conventional plots, achieving 24 bushels per acre. In a non-drought year, yields for both conventional and organic would be expected to be 40 bushels per acre. "Over time, organic practices encourage the soil to hold on to moisture more efficiently than conventionally managed soil," says Moyer. "The higher content of organic matter also makes organic soil less compact so that root systems can penetrate more deeply to find moisture." In addition, organic practices reduce nitrate leaching and erosion.

As Tennessee farmers abandon their worst soybean crops since 1956, and communities in Kenya and Somalia brace themselves for a drought-based famine, The Rodale Institute's results are a positive indication that adopting organic practices can help avert future crop failures around the world.

The Rodale Institute is a nonprofit charity located in Kutztown, Penn. The Institute shares its expertise on organic/regenerative farming methods with people worldwide to achieve a regenerative food system that renews environmental and human health. 'Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People®' has been the Rodale Institute's message for the past fifty years. Funded in large part by donations from individuals, government agencies, private foundations and corporations, the Rodale Institute continues to promote soil quality practices to farmers worldwide.

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