Genetically Modified Crops: Challenges for Farmers Symposium

Debates about the merits of genetically modified (GM) crops have generated a great deal of heat, but very little light, over recent years. Amongst policy makers the discussion has been dominated by arguments over the possible health and environmental impacts of a move to GM. Consequently, it is these concerns that have taken centre stage within the regulatory frameworks that have been set up to assess and monitor GM crops. The impact of a move to GM on the agricultural sector has accordingly attracted much less attention than it might otherwise have done. In so far as farmers’ interests have been considered at all, the debate has been dominated by exchanges over the implications of GM for farmers in developing countries. It is now clear, however, that a move towards the widespread cultivation of GM crops would have a significant impact on farming in Australia. Growers therefore need access to reliable information about the implications of GM across a range of issues, including crop yield, pesticide use and legal rights and liabilities.

To this end, the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA) organised a symposium on the implications of GM Crops for growers to be held during the Australian National Field Day (ANFD) in Orange on Thursday, 21 October 2004. This free symposium was designed to give growers the opportunity to hear presentations on the implications of GM Crops from representatives from Commonwealth and State Government, Research and Development Corporations and fellow growers.

Robert Burrell, Associate Director, ACIPA, The Australian National University
Dr Lindsay Cook, Chief, Division for Plant Industries, NSW Agriculture
Adam Kay, General Manager, Cotton Seed Distributors
Julie Newman, National Spokesperson, Network of Concerned Farmers
Dr Peter Thygesen, Scientific Adviser, Office of the Gene Technology Regulator