Review of GM Study Tour to Canada 27 farmer participants
By Bill Crabtree, tour organiser, 2nd October 2006
See Full Report on Crabtree Study Tour as pdf >>>
A four week Study Tour program was devised by Bill Crabtree from 22nd July until 16th August 2006. Then advertisements were placed in rural newspapers and newsletters as well as emails were sent to past tour participants of Crabtree Agricultural Study Tours inviting participants to attend. The final party consisted of 26 full time participants and 2 attended part-time. Funds were sought from GRDC to assist the tour, without these funds the tour would not have preceded.
The average age of the full time tourers was 52 years with 65% of them being active farmers and 30% retired farmers. The participants were from all over Australia, with 13 from WA, 5 from NSW, 5 from Victoria, 2 from Queensland and one from South Australia. Nearly all of them (80%) had some or a little knowledge of GM crops while 14% knew nothing of GM crops.
What did they learn about GMs?
While 60% were for GM technology before the trip, 40% were either neutral or against the technology. Of the attendees 71% believed that their view had moved even more in favour of the technology than before the tour. No one became more cautious of GM crops as a result of the tour. Most attendees (61%) said the tour gave them lots of new information, 35% said it gave them some new information and 4% said it told them what they already knew. The tour was rated highly for technical quality with 48% saying it was excellent and 35% saying it was good and 17% saying it was okay. No-one said it was lacking in technical information.
Of the farmers on the tour, they all said that they would grow GM canola if they were given the chance to do so and the average area of their farms growing GM canola would likely be 14% of their farm in the first year. There was a range of
1-50%. All believed the assumptions that GM canola would likely give 20-30% more grain yield over TT canola and that it would give reliable weed control with no real market penalties. Most tourers felt that they were more informed on GMs as a result of the tour and realised that they could kill GM volunteer weeds and that GMs would result in cleaner paddocks.
The largest concern expressed about GM crops was “no concern” at 58%, then Roundup resistance at 10%. The following concerns were raised once; no option to use the technology, the annoyance of the TUA (technology use agreement), less genetic diversity possible, some market resistance, possible long-term effects of GMs and man playing games with natures DNA.
On what views they would express to the press back home in Australia; 21% said the press needs to know that we need it, 21% said that more yield is a reality, 15% said that the press need to get themselves informed with the facts and stop scaremongering and 12% said it would be better for the environment if GMs could be used.