[Photo (left): Founding members of the Producers" Forum: Maree McKay and husband Wayne]
Maree McKay and her husband Wayne, who produce wheat, canola, beef and prime lambs on a dryland farm in central-west NSW, are founding members of the Producers" Forum, a grower group set up to try to secure choice over whether or not farmers grow crops bred with gene modifications.
Mrs McKay says the NSW moratorium on the commercial cultivation of GM food crops, which ends in March next year, has stopped producers from having a right to choose. "We want to see producers having the option of using this technology if it"s suited to their farming system," Mrs McKay says. "That would allow farmers to continue to do what they normally do: look at the technology, see if it"s suited to them, and then decide whether to adopt it or not."
There is a concern among producers that research is slowing down because "there"s no way forward", she says.
Producers" Forum convenor Jeff Bidstrup, from Warra in south-east Queensland, says: "I"ve seen the massive impact that GM has had on the cotton I produce. And as a graingrower as well, I feel we can"t just give away a 20 to 30 per cent yield advantage."
He says the worldwide introduction of GM cotton caused production to surge and prices to drop, and this scenario threatens the grain industry: "We have the option of competing equally, or with one hand tied behind our backs."
For more information: Producers" Forum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Founding members of the Producers" Forum: Maree McKay and husband Wayne.