Is GM canola good or bad?

Protesters in chicken suits


Many people say that GM herbicide-tolerant canola is a good thing. Others say that they are worried by this development.

People who think this GM canola is a good thing say that it:

  • is safe to eat
  • is better for the natural environment, because glyphosate is less toxic than other herbicides and is not washed into waterways
  • helps to minimise tilling and soil degradation
  • enables farmers to have a choice on the weed control strategy they use
  • saves farmers some of the time and the labour costs of spraying
  • improves profits because farmers get better crop yields, since the crop is not competing with weeds
  • is better for company shareholders, because company profits are increased (although Monsanto is the company that most people associate with GM food, there are in fact more than 20 other companies currently producing GM seeds, such as Advanta, Novartis, Dow, Pioneer, Bayer and Syngenta)
  • is better for the seed merchants, because they can sell higher quality seeds at a higher price.

The people who are worried say that GM canola:

  • may produce substances in the plants that are harmful to humans and farm animals
  • may cause the plant to produce oil that does not have as much food value as unmodified canola
  • may outcross with with other plants including weeds and make them herbicide resistant
  • may not be good for farmers because the seeds tend to be more expensive to purchase than the traditionally used seed
  • may encourage farmers to use more glyphosate, making weeds more likely to develop resistance.

A number of these points of view appear contradictory. One needs to examine the evidence to decide whether or not each of these views, for or against the use of GM seeds, is valid. Apparently opposing points of view may be valid, depending on the circumstances.

For further points of view on these matters and some of the evidence that supports them, visit:

What people know about GM crops - work sheet [PDF 36kb | 3 pages]

People do not agree about genetic modification of crops - work sheet [PDF 29kb | 2 pages]

Growing GM crops in Australia? - work sheet [PDF 33kb | 3 pages]

A problem with weeds - work sheet [PDF 29kb | 2 pages]

Ask the experts - work sheet [PDF 53kb | 2 pages]

Looking at media views - GM foods - work sheet [PDF 41kb | 4 pages]