Farmers 'back' GM crops: survey
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Date: Monday, August 18, 2003
A new national survey of farmers' attitudes to genetically-modified crops has found the majority support the technology, but farmers in Victoria and New South Wales are the most cautious.
The survey by Federal Government agency Biotechnology Australia polled 500 farmers nationally and revealed most will grow GM crops as long as several concerns are addressed.
The agency's Craig Cormick says those concerns are whether the performance of the crops is proven, keeping access to overseas markets and a possible negative consumer reaction.
"We hope this will feed into some of the decisions being made on gene technology, to help people look at all the questions, all the results to make some more informed decisions," Mr Cormick said.
He says the agency conducted the survey because it is concerned previous polls were biased.
"Of course we
expect some groups who are for gene technology to try and pick up the stats that
best support their case and those groups that are against gene technology will
of course pick up the stats that best prove their case."
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Farmers say no to GM crops in survey
Publication: Australian Associated Press
Date: Monday, August 18, 2003
Australian farmers are yet to embrace genetically modified crops with a new survey finding overwhelming opposition to the new technology.
In the first public survey of farmers' attitudes toward GM crops, Biotechnology Australia found 74 per cent of 500 people quizzed said they would not consider growing genetically altered crops at this stage.
Forty nine per cent said they were generally opposed to GM crops, while 23 per cent said they were supportive while another 17 per cent answered neither.
The position of the farmers is in contrast to the public support for GM from peak organisations such as the National Farmers' Federation and federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss.
Australia's first GM food crop, a genetically altered canola, was approved for commercial use last month.
A series of state moratoriums on GM crops mean it is unlikely a widescale planting of the canola will occur for several years.
Farmers were most worried about consumer concern about GM crops, followed by their performance in the paddock, access to markets with GM bans, the flow of pollen from GM plants and their resistance to weeds.
But farmers also believe there could be benefits from the technology, with many hopeful of reduced chemical use, better control of weeds, increased yields and profits.
But farmers do hold out some hope of using the technology, with 58 per cent saying they would consider planting GM crops if their perceived problems were overcome.
Biotechnology Australia's public awareness manager Craig Cormick said the survey showed farmers were taking a pragmatic approach to GM crops.
The survey found 62 per cent of those quizzed supported field trials of GM crops, while 53 per cent supported GM crops if they had been approved by the nation's genetic modification watchdog.
"We found that attitudes towards GM crops are more complex than is often portrayed in the media or by interest groups,"Mr Cormick said in a statement.
"In contrast to those at the extreme ends of the debate, the majority of farmers have adopted a pragmatic approach to the technology and are weighing up the benefits versus the risks."
There were sharp differences between states.
More than 90 per cent of Tasmanian farmers said they would not consider growing GM crops at this stage, while in Queensland just over half of farmers would not.
About three-quarters of NSW and Victorian farmers would not grow GM crops yet.
Australian Democrats agriculture spokesman John Cherry said the poll results were a wake-up call for GM supporters.
He said it was clear much more research had to be done before GM food crops were released commercially.
"I don't think farmers have enough confidence in the technology," he told AAP.
conservative people, but they will pick up the technology if they have
confidence in it and they are sure it will deliver results."
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