Jul. 1, 2013
Monsanto Australia managing director Daniel Kruithoff said Monsanto estimated it had sold around 550 tonnes of RR canola this year, up 22pc on last year.
Most of the increase is due to better sales in Western Australia, he said.
Mr Kruithoff said a combination of improved agronomics and better market access for GM canola had helped with the boost in sales.
He said new varieties were performing better than the earlier RR lines on the market.
“National Variety Trials (NVT) data shows that RR lines are better yielding and have a higher oil content than other herbicide tolerant varieties, such as triazine tolerant (TT) or Clearfield cultivar lines,” Mr Kruithoff said.
He said the recent breakthrough by Australian officials in getting China to again receive Australian canola was also a positive for RR producers.
“There are now negligible premiums for non-GM over GM lines.”
China accepts GM canola, while the other major market for Australian canola, the European Union, which took the majority of Australian exports while China had its import ban on Aussie canola, does not.
Mr Kruithoff said Monsanto estimated the current premium for non-GM canola at around $10 a tonne.
However, Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps said he continued to hear of growers dissatisfied with the results of RR cultivars.
“They’re not happy with the costs of the technology or the yields and then there’s the discount at the end.”
Mr Phelps said he understood the premium for non-GM canola to be closer to $40/t.
The increase in RR plantings, according to Mr Kruithoff came from a mixture of farmers who had used the technology increasing their RR plant this year and farmers trying the technology for the first time.
“There’s an 18pc increase in the number of farmers using the technology this year.”
He said he believed Monsanto had its pricing structure right.
“We had a small price increase this year and we didn’t get too much negative feedback about that, we think it fits in at around the same level as other herbicide tolerant options.”
Mr Phelps said the Australian figures did not reflect world-wide opinion on GM crops.
“Europe has long been the centre of opposition to GM food, but we’re seeing more companies in North America go GMO-free.
“I also have heard of a company in Canada looking to grow conventional canola to supply markets it has, a reversal of the dominant position in Canada in terms of canola plantings, which could be the start of a trend of farmers getting out of growing GM crops to maximise market access.”
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