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The Impact Of Biotechnology, In Particular Genetically Modified Crops On International Agricultural Research, Production And Marketing And How This Will Affect Agriculture In Western Australia.

In 2000 I was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship to study the impact of biotechnology, in particular genetically modified crops, on international agricultural research, production and marketing. I studied this topic in 2001 in Canada, USA and United Kingdom in an attempt to gain an insight into the issues with GM crops and how this may impact on our decision to grow them in Western Australia. I was impressed by the technology available that opened up a range of opportunities for vast improvements in production traits, quality of food, food safety and environmental and human health benefits. I also gained an understanding of the challenges faced by Canada and the US in production, identity preservation, testing and marketing of GM crops. In contrast the UK gave me a valuable appreciation of the influence of the marketplace in determining the future of GM research and production. Since my return I have had an opportunity to reflect on what I learnt and assess the impact this has on our decision to grow GM crops in WA in an environment of growing public concern and debate. The technology provides us with a valuable tool for more efficient production and market segmentation and we must take advantage of it to remain competitive in the world market. However, we need to learn from the mistakes made by other countries producing GM crops and commit resources to very good testing and identity preservation systems backed by strong regulatory, research, development and production processes to minimise the risk of making the same mistakes.

Author(s): Forbes Sandy (1)

Organization(s): Department of Agriculture Western Australia (1)

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