Global agribusiness Monsanto believes Victorian grain growers have planted their largest ever genetically modified canola crop.
The record planting comes as canola plantings are down by close to 10 per cent across the state.
Dry weather and poor prices earlier in the year prompted farmers to plant pulses instead of canola.
Monsanto’s Donald Benn said he expected Victoria’s GM crop could triple within the next five years.
“The varieties have improved significantly thanks to all our seed companies,” he said.
“They’ve really run away in terms of yield and oil improvements with many varieties, but with [Roundup Ready] varieties in particular.
“That’s meant a better bottom line for farmers.”
Monsanto figures state that Victorian farmers have purchased 108 tonnes of the company’s Roundup Ready canola seeds, up 15 per cent on last year.
The company believe farmers planted 47,000 hectares with GM canola, about 10,000 more than last year.
That level of planting would account for about 13 per cent of Victoria’s overall canola crop.
Mr Benn said fluctuating global prices and a higher cost for GM seeds prevented some farmers from moving away from non-GM canola.
“Most growers, if they just look at it on that merit, it can be a bit of a turnoff,” he said.
“But when they sit down with their agronomist and they actually factor in the greater yield benefits and what affect that has on their bottom line, their gross margin will be just as good and better than what they’re currently growing.”
The biggest importer of Australian canola is the European Union, followed by China, Pakistan, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.
During the last financial year, the EU imported more than 1.5 million tonnes and China about 600,000 tonnes.
The EU prohibits the importation of GM canola, which Mr Benn conceded limits the sector’s growth in Australia.
“Obviously that’s a bit of a hurdle, the EU not accepting GM canola at the moment,” he said.
“With greater political pressure from farmers and obviously from farmers in Europe itself, hopefully we’ll see that change for the long-term.”
Monsanto is also reporting an increase in GM canola in Western Australia and New South Wales.
The company expects GM canola will account for 30 per cent of Western Australia’s crop and 11 per cent of the total New South Wales crop this year.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/global-agribusiness-monsanto-reporting-victorias-largest-ever-gm-canola-crop)