A recent column (Age, October 20) for Federated Farmers by Gavin Forrest advocates for genetic engineering in farming.
His vision is for 'GM crops and animals in the future' to safeguard our export options? Using buzz terms like reduce carbon footprint, less chemical use and advanced gene editing he seeks to build a persuasive case where there is none and implies opposition is anti science.
I suggest Gavin Forrest extend his science research and then advocacy from the very small commercial wing of gene editing to the very broad realm of soil science which covers the very real biology and building blocks of life that should underpin farming.
He might start with a simple Google of regenerative farming systems or organic systems to gain some insight into the 'science' that underpins them.
Then perhaps check out the major commercial genetic engineering success to date which is Monsanto's Roundup Ready technology which enables crop farmers to spray Roundup at increased doses without killing the crop.
It should lead him to a recent 'science' report that has found glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in every off the shelf food product made with wheat that was tested in the United States.
This explains why glyphosate has been found to now be present in human breastmilk.
Unintended consequences. After gaining some broader insight of healthy soil biology being the farmers friend, I hope Gavin Forrest might actually backup and begin to question whether under the last decades' intensive farming development, the practice of regularly killing soil biology with blanket paddock spraying of Roundup is actually a wise thing to do?
If we accept that replacing dead soil biology with synthetic fertiliser isn't a good thing to do. Then we can finally put the health of our rivers before fertiliser company profits, and look with suspicion at whose interests the army of 'NZ Farm Advisors' really represent?
Recent news that after decades of inaction the ponderous Fonterra farming collective is actually making some moves into organics might also be of interest. It might have something to do with premium export returns?
This development leads me to the nub of my response to your column Gavin and that is the issue of leadership. Choosing high-input chemical-reliant systems and still stuck on GE advocacy, NZ farmers have long been let down by their leadership.
Regenerative farming isn't totally organic but it looks hard at input costs, overstocking and works with biology to increase profits. Yes Gavin, increased profits for farmers! Isn't that the economic resilience you're talking about? Maybe less cancer and cleaner rivers thrown in?
Oh and reduced carbon footprint that you thoughtfully added. Despite the size of Monsanto the 'change a gene and own the seed rights' industry is a sick if not dead horse. Time to get off it Gavin and instead lead our farming industry where we need to go. Please. We're actually desperately in need of wise leadership in these times.
Clean Waters to the Sea