news, features, articles and disease information for the crop industry


Trial GM Crop Proposed for Australia's Ord Valley

07 February 2014

AUSTRALIA - The national body responsible for regulating genetic technology has received an application to grow safflower in the Kimberley.

The CSIRO has applied for permission to grow one hectare of the genetically modified oilseed near Kununurra, reports ABC Rural.

The organisation is requesting changes to a licence it currently holds to grow GM safflower in NSW and the ACT, where it has three trial sites.

Oil from the crops is not allowed to be used for human food or animal feed.

Shire President for Wyndham East Kimberley, John Moulden, previously worked for the Department of Agriculture and Food and says it's not the first time GM crops have been grown in the region.

"The Department of Agriculture had a big GM cotton research program back in 1996," he said.

"There's still GM cotton grown on the research station here now, but not in the quantity it was.

"At its peak we had maybe 1000 hectares of GM cotton."

Mr Moulden says at the time of the cotton research program there was very little community concern.

"There was certainly no local opposition," he said.

"This is a pretty practical town with its roots in farming and I think they look at GM as just another tool.

"Whenever we did get opposition cropping up it was always from out of town."

Safflower has a long history in the region, it was the first crop to be grown in Ord Valley when it was developed back in the 1960s.

"Farmers on the Ord have always been receptive to new ideas, I think they'd look with great interest at safflower again.

"I'm not aware of what the trait that's been modified is, but if it grows well and if it's profitable I think you'd find that farmers here would be receptive."

The application to grow GM safflower in Kununurra comes just as a landmark case is due to begin next week.

An organic farmer in southern Western Australia is suing his neighbour after his property was allegedly contaminated with the neighbour's genetically modified canola crop.

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator is accepting public comment on the proposal.

Submissions need to be received by March 7th.

TheCropSite News Desk

Our Sponsors