13 July 2011
Although agriculture might be exempt from the Government’s carbon pricing scheme, a range of innovative measures remain available to farmers to assist them in their task of increasing agricultural productivity and reducing carbon output.
Research indicates that modern farming tools, including GM crops can be part of this solution. This was the message advocated by CropLife Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Matthew Cossey, noting that in the new carbon tax environment, we shouldn’t just be pointing the finger at the biggest polluters, but also acknowledging new technologies and practices that reduce climate impact.
Mr Cossey today called on the Australian Government to recognise the climate benefits from growing GM crops. “A carbon tax is not the only solution to reducing emissions. A report compiled by world leading agricultural economists Brookes and Barfoot revealed that in 2009, GM crops saved around 18 billion kg of CO2 gas emissions – or the equivalent of removing 8 million cars from the road”, Mr Cossey said.
The Brookes and Barfoot report revealed that the fuel savings associated with making fewer spray runs (relative to conventional crops) and the switch to conservation, reduced and no-till farming systems, avoided more than 1,409 million kg of carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 alone.”These figures provide clear proof that GM crops can play a significant role in reducing global carbon emissions”, Mr Cossey said.
Mr Cossey said the Australian plant science industry leads the way in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint and should be recognised by government. “Australia’s plant science industry is ahead of the game when it comes to leading edge science and innovation. GM crops have been the most rapidly adopted technology in agricultural history, not only for their high-yielding qualities and economic return to farmers, but for their environmental benefits. Globally, the plant science industry is one of the world’s most innovative sectors, with the top 10 companies investing an estimated $4.72 billion in research and development each year”.
“The benefits of biotechnology have been evident since the technology’s widespread adoption 15 years ago. In Australia alone, we have seen firsthand the benefits that GM cotton has delivered to farmers. The use of GM cotton has reduced the amount of insecticide applied to each hectare of Australian cotton by 65-85% and caused yields to increase by 48% between 1998 and 2008”, Mr Cossey said.
“GM crops require fewer broad spectrum pesticide applications, enabling cotton farmers to better implement integrated pest management strategies”.
“Australia’s plant science companies are dedicated to enhancing and safeguarding our natural environment and working with the nation’s farmers to grow our agricultural sector in a sustainable way”,Mr Cossey concluded.