Editorial: Going global for the 21st century

Photo of John Lovett

The grains industry has much to gain from becoming a significant partner in the fast-developing field of bio-technology. The arena is international. Many of the key players are overseas multinationals and research institutions. If you turn to Ground Cover Forum, at the back of this issue, you'll find a sketch of the current state of play in biotechnology and how Australia fits in.

Taking us into the 21st century, the GRDC Board has targeted a suite of new investments to strengthen Australia's grains biotechnology research by establishing national and international research alliances. These strategic alliances will be in both the private and public sectors.

A good example of the kind of international effort that may pay large dividends commercially and environmentally is the report, in this issue, on genetically modified oilseeds that open the door towards 'paddock mini-factories' for industrial oils. The GRDC's international priorities are genetic resources and breeding programs; biotechnology; farming systems including water use, salinity and nutrient cycling. An equal emphasis is on quality systems and market access. This will involve stronger links with international grain processors.

Among other initiatives, negotiations are now underway with Chinese research bodies for collaborative projects and the Corporation is also talking to a number of multinationals. Australian grains researchers are already involved with more than 250 international projects in 52 countries.

Back home, the global perspective will be backed up with investments in Australia's grains research infrastructure and the industry's environmental responsibilities.

This will involve a multi-million dollar program to combat the growth of dryland salinity across Australia, complementing investments by state governments, the Commonweath and, not least, individual growers.

As well, there is a major commitment to education and training to develop the human resources for the grains industry into the next century.

Editorial Honours

John Lovett, Executive Editor of Ground Cover has won the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) 1998 Achievements Award.

AOF President Allan McCallum presented Professor Lovett with the award at the Oleaginous Banquet held before the federation's third millennium forum in Sydney. Mr McCallum said the AOF had chosen Professor Lovett as its second award winner in recognition of his contribution to Australian agriculture as a whole, the oilseeds industry and the GRDC.

Soon after, the University of New England awarded John Lovett the degree of Emeritus Professor honoris causa.