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New Ryegrass Benefits Farmers, Export Reputation, And Environment

Farmers can breathe a sigh of relief as they move into autumn. The future promise of a new high lipid ryegrass developed by conventional breeding and not using any gene editing or transgenic techniques shows that through innovation and foresight of plant breeders, farmers can benefit the environment and increase animal health.

The Germinal high lipid ryegrass will compliment their portfolio of rye grasses. Germinal and their research partner the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) have understood that increasing the lipid content of grass reduces methane emissions from ruminant livestock, by changing rumen fermentation patterns and breaking down protein more efficiently. [1]

The Waikato District Council recently held a hearing on whether GMO precautions should be placed in the Waikato District plan. The Commissioners heard about the threat genetically modified/engineered organisms (GMOs) would have on organic farmers, especially if their land were contaminated with the GM ryegrass. Any GM/GE contamination would cause immediate loss of organic certification, leading to significant adverse economic impacts for the farmer and consumer choice. [2]

“The news that Germinal Seeds is developing high lipid grasses to suit New Zealand conditions and not using any GE technologies is encouraging and shows that conventional breeding is ahead of GM/GE development. This choice will allow New Zealand farmers to stay GE Free, and avoid the problems associated with GE contamination,” said Claire Bleakley.

In the last five years, many non-GM varieties of horticultural and agricultural plants have been released. All have performed well and do not rely on pesticide applications through their growing life. The first was the Lubera crispy fresh “RedLove” apple a red-fleshed apple released on Valentine’s Day 5 years ago. [3] Later came the Zespri delicious colourful red kiwi fruit [4] and Germinal’s High sugar rye grass and now the new high lipid grass.

These innovations in conventional plan breeding have enabled New Zealand to keep a pure advantage in providing clean, safe GE-free produce that attracts premium prices.







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