GM environmental benefits undebated – Straight Furrow

In the wake of GM debate raised by an NZ speaking tour by two Australian farmers opposed to GE plants, Sandra Finnie interviewed crop research scientist Dr Michael Dunbier for rural newspaper Straight Furrow.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Dilemma over GM pasture research

Release of GM grasses in New Zealand remains on the distant horizon and views around the issue tend to be polarised.

New Zealand has yet to reach a level of debate on GM grasses versus environmental benefits, says plant geneticist and researcher Dr Michael Dunbier, who works for Pastoral Genomics.

It was a big issue and needed consideration based on big questions involved, he said.

Pastoral Genomics is funded by New Zealand farmers and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and all intellectual property is owned and controlled by that consortium or its partners for the good of New Zealand.

“The big questions are the benefits GM pastures offer in terms of the environment and productivity against any perceived risks,” Dr Dunbier said.

“Research shows GM pasture will produce fewer greenhouse gases, use less fertiliser (also good for the environment) and be more productive.

“As the world looks for more food produced in a sustainable way, these are important benefits – they are benefits that could come when integrated into any farming system,” Dr Dunbier said.

“So far New Zealand has not achieved the level of debate that acknowledges this.”

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