Commercialisation of GM canola in Australia is likely to have only negligible direct impacts on the organic canola, livestock and honey industries, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).
The report, Potential impacts from the introduction of GM canola on organic farming in Australia, investigates the potential economic impacts of the commercialisation of GM canola in Australia on domestic organic agriculture, and looks into the treatment of GMOs in organic certification standards.
Certified organic agriculture has rapidly grown in recent years, but remains a small market providing food to those who want to avoid potential chemical residues and GM material.
"Organic standards require that crops be isolated from non-organic crops and products, including both conventional and GM canola. Planting GM canola in place of conventional canola would therefore have minimal impact on organic canola," said Phillip Glyde, executive director of ABARE.
"Impact on organic honey is likely to be minimal for the same reason: current standards require that bees do not forage on conventional crops."
The organic livestock industry was found to use a range of organic feedstuffs, and the lack of canola crushing in Australia over the past few years suggested that organic canola meal is not an important component of livestock feed rations.
"The introduction of GM canola would therefore appear to have minimal impact on the organic livestock industry," said Glyde.
Glyde also cautioned that Australia's stringent standards could be detrimental to the industry.
"Australian organic standards tend to be more stringent than those in our export markets. Therefore, Australian certified organic products are likely to continue to be accepted in export markets if GM canola is introduced in Australia," he said. "However, the stringent domestic requirements may reduce Australia's price competitiveness."