Evaluation of the Agronomic, Environmental, Economic, and Coexistence Impacts Following the Introduction of GM Canola to Australia (2008-2010)
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Despite genetically modified (GM) canola receiving Australian regulatory approval in 2003, commercial production did not occur until 2008 due to concerns relating to coexistence. Following commercial release, a three-year study was initiated to assess adoption patterns; agronomic, economic, environmental, and coexistence impacts; and attitudinal changes of farmers growing GM and/or non-GM canola. The study’s findings demonstrate substantial benefits from GM canola including more effective weed control, reduced pesticide use, reduced use of cultivation, improvement in yields, reduced risk of herbicide resistance, and a reduction in the environmental ‘footprint.’ The economic impacts have been variable due to the initial lack of access to GM canola varieties, the cost of access to the GM technology, and grain marketing/logistic issues. Concerns relating to coexistence failed to materialize with GM canola respondents and the issue of coexistence has not influenced farmers’ choice in opting to grow GM canola or to increase the area of GM canola grown. The study demonstrates that the major barrier to adoption is the perceived lack of economic value derived from GM canola compared to the alternate non-GM weed-control management system options.