South Australian agriculture minister cites up to 300% yield increases without GM
We look forward to reading more about this innovative programme. If these results are confirmed, other nations and governments should take note and act.
EXCERPT: “Why would you go for seven per cent when you can get 50 to 100 per cent increases in yield without having to use genetically modified seeds?”
SA Agriculture Minister says soil program proves utilising "God's gifts" can boost yields better than GM technology
By Danielle Grindlay
ABC Rural, 17 March 2015
The South Australian Agriculture Minister says the "amazing" results of a soil improvement program prove grain producers do not need genetic modification technology.
Minister Leon Bignell announced results of the Government's "New Horizons" program trial sites, highlighting that some crops recorded a 300 per cent yield increase.
Describing it as an "evolution in science", Mr Bignell said the program was about taking "what God has given us with soils and using them in a different way".
"Instead of using the top five centimetres of the soil, you go down to 50cm or even deeper," he said.
"You put clay in it when it's needed, you put organic matter where it's needed as well.
"We're seeing [yield] increases of 50 per cent, 100 per cent, even 300 per cent in some of the cases."
Mr Bignell said the trials had strengthened his view that South Australia should maintain a moratorium on GM technology, which he said gave the state's produce a "market edge".
"I've just come back from Qingdao [in China] … and they love the fact that we're GM free," he said.
"That's the way of the future, that's the way that we'll increase the value of what we produce here in South Australia."
Mr Bignell rejected suggestions South Australia would be "left behind", saying "the public in most places of the world aren't convinced" that GM technology is safe.
Some SA grain producers have called for the moratorium to be lifted, arguing the technology would help them tackle weeds and other pests.
State body Grain Producers SA said farmers should be able to choose how they run their enterprises and whether or not they wanted to grow the 'premium products' Mr Bignell describes.
Producers have also said their GM-free grain is not translating to more money in the bank.
Minister Bignell conceded more work needed to be done to market produce as GM-free but said he was confident producers would see higher returns in the near future.
"I've also had some talks with [grain handler] Viterra and I'll be over in Switzerland in April," he said.
"I'm hoping to get a meeting with Glencore, just to talk to them as well – can we brand up some of the grains that they export around the world as South Australian GM-free grain?"
"That's when the real returns will start coming in and hopefully they're passed on to the farmer."
Mr Bignell said he believed results of the New Horizons program could be replicated in all grain growing areas of the state.
"These [trial] sites are in the Mallee and in the south east and across on the Eyre Peninsula, so it's not a fluke that's worked in one position," he said.
"What we're going to have to work on is a real (sic) good communication strategy and be out there working side by side with the farmers over the next few years.
"If you look at GM and the promises around increases of about seven per cent in yields; why would you go for seven per cent when you can get 50 to 100 per cent increases in yield without having to use genetically modified seeds?"