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Australia will not take the lead on GM wine

By Ankush Chibber , 02-Apr-2014
Last updated on 02-Apr-2014 at 18:06 GMT

Australia will not take the lead on GM wine

A key stakeholder in Australia’s booming wine industry has revealed that the country’s winegrowers are not going to take the lead when it comes to genetically modified (GM) wine production. 

Talking to local media channel ABC News, Dan Johnson, managing director of the Australian Wine Institute, said that Australia was happy to take a back seat while other nations take the lead on troubling issue of GM wine.

Currently, in both Tasmania and South Australia, two of Australia major wine regions, there are moratoriums in force on the commercial release of GM food crops.

According to Johnson, while a majority of the Australian wine sector is against the use of GM inputs, there is a small minority in favor.

“I would say that there is not a completely uniform view. If you put 100 growers in a room, some would look to embrace new technology whether that is GM or non GM or some other form of technology,” he said.

“There are some people that are inherently more innovative than others, but I think in the main, there is still widespread concern of what the use of GM for example would do to export markets, what it might do to the perception of the whole Australian wine industry.”

“As a result, the wine category doesn't look at that very seriously,” he stated.

Johnson stressed that therefore, the use of GM inputs in wine production both in Australia and abroad is some way off.

“It will still be quite some time till we will see GM type products in wine, if ever. But I think that there are other agricultural crops and indeed other wine industries in the world that might seek to take a lead in the practical implementation of that,” he said.

“I think that with time, there are a number of ways in which biotechnology can play a massive role in getting higher yields from grapes, to allowing grapes to be grown in areas that perhaps they can’t currently… I think that over time we will start to see those things come through.”

Johnson was unreachable when FoodNavigator-Asia contacted him over these comments.