Monday, March 16, 2009

Separating fact from fantasy

Is anyone else finding grain markets boring at the moment? I thought this week was the first week in the last 5yrs I might struggle to write a newsletter, but as normal the battle becomes what I leave out! By the way, when you start thinking markets are boring they have a tendency to kick like a drowning horse.

For the last 5yrs I have resisted the temptation to enter the GMO debate. Frankly, the anti-GMO lobby scares me and I have been more concerned with marketing issues. But this week’s announcement that the WA Gov’t was moving to abolish the GLA prior to this year’s harvest now means Australian grain growers everywhere can market their grain freely – see press release on the members page of our website. Woo Hoo! The anti-GMO lobby (Greenpeace...that’s why I never give those guys in the bear suits any money) is chaperoning (and no doubt paying for) two nth American farmers to conduct an anti-GM speaking tour across Australia.

Amongst other things the press release claims ‘Over a decade of growing GMO crops in North America has resulted in increased corporate control of farming and reduced profits for farmers.’ And that ‘Monsanto has sued thousands of US farmers for patent infringement since the introduction of GM crops.’Now we are not GMO experts but, we do have a duty to ensure that our subscribers receive objective and independent information that aids them in making profitable business decisions.

So we decided to check on the credentials of these guys and some of the claims they are making with Mike at ProFarmer Canada. Mike (is an absolute champion, hugely experienced and very well respected and well qualified to speak on the subject).Here’s how it went.

Mike, do you know these blokes?
“Nope...never heard of these guys, and quite frankly not sure why they are garnering attention from your country’s media and legislators. I don’t see them as authoritative sources of information...at least no more than any other individual farmer. And while there have been a couple of legal wranglings between Monsanto and potential patent infringements, I don’t see it as widespread...thousands of farmers sued...I don’t think so!”

Me again (ProFarmer Australia)
“A simple analysis of growth in your canola industry vs ours is about all the evidence (see chart of the week which is a repeat of the same chart we ran in Oct 2008) I need to show that GMO’s haven’t been the destructive force in nth America that these gentlemen are portending.”

Mike again:
“GMO has been a boon to the canola industry here...making it easily today the most important cash crop for Canadian farmers. The yield advantages, particularly in stressed conditions I think are pretty well documented and there is a reason why farmers here overwhelmingly use these canola varieties, because they work and generate the best return. Market acceptance is growing, EU yesterday announced the acceptance of more varieties of GMO canola and this has been the toughest market to crack in the world.”

ProFarmer Australia:
“So it appears a simple choice. We can continue to try and compete with outdated technology against a competitor that is growing bigger and stronger by the day or we can adopt technology that shows strong evidence of improving the sustainability and profitability of farming in countries using it around the world.”

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