This is the beast that’s stolen a fair chunk of the last five months of my life. It turns out that I’m pretty proud of it, after all.
News release – Royal Society of New Zealand paper highlights the potential benefits and possible risks of genetically modified forages
The paper itself – Emerging Issues – Genetically Modified Forages
So the paper in summary:
- There is bugger all evidence that feeding cattle on GM forage is harmful to humans that eat those cattle.
- The ecological effects of switching from non-GM grass to GM grass are trivial, compared with the ecological switching from grass to trees or other plants.
- GM crops may reduce greenhouse gas emissions per cow, per pint of milk, or per burger, but that doesn’t mean our overall emissions will go down, coz our total production of milk and/or burgers may rise.
- Growing some GM crops in NZ doesn’t stop NZ from growing non-GM food in NZ, at least in the eyes of some of the people we export to.
- Yes, there’s lots of questions about IP, but that’s not RSNZ’s business to dig into.
Despite all that evidence, I’m personally still not convinced that it’s a good idea. The key question is who benefits? If GM crops deliver health benefits and environmental benfits, then go to it. However, most of the research is about increasing productivity. Better productivity doesn’t increase farm profits, as it drives the market price down. Better productivity doesn’t necessarily reduce environmental impacts, as it pushes production upwards. So there’s no guarantee of any wins here.
Anyway. Press coverage so far:
GE plants promoted as ‘cisgenic’ – NZ Herald
GE pastures on the cards for NZ farmers – TV3 News
Greener pastures? GM forage crops in New Zealand – Science Media Centre
And we got a item on Midday Report, but no audio up yet.