GROWERS of genetically modified canola crops are copping a caning in the market place.
With prices largely dictated by Canada, GM canola is trading at $25-$50 a tonne less than non-GM varieties.
Grain Assist principal Alastair Beaumont said GM canola was the base grade for negotiation.
Mr Beaumont said non-GM growers in Tasmania, Western Australia and Kangaroo Island were selling grain into a reduced, competitive market.
He said Australian GM growers were now competing with Canada and the US at lower price levels.
Speaking at a canola forum in Dookie last week, Mr Beaumont said consumer and grain market signals indicated a preference for non-GM canola.
"GM canola has not the value of non-GM canola," he said.
"From a marketing side, non-GM and organics is still bringing the highest price.
"When GM canola first came out, it was worth the same price (as non-GM).
"In the market today it is at a $25-$50/tonne discount at where non-GM canola is."
Mr Beaumont said recent polls showed 93 per cent of Americans supported labelling of genetically modified products.
"This will drive non-GM and organic foods if passed," he said. "If consumers have a choice they will buy non-GMO foods but price dictates consumers."
US sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010.
Riverine Plains Incorporated chairman Evan Ryan said he began trialling GM canola on his 1000ha Yarrawonga farm in 2006, partly in a philosophical decision to support the technology.
Mr Ryan said growers benefited from improved yields, drought and frost tolerance through GM technology.
Advantages included controlling Group A and Group B herbicide resistance in crop rotations.
"In the drought, we went away from canola to wheat on wheat as a risk mitigation strategy," Mr Ryan said.
"We had disease issues in the wheat rotation as it was too intensive - there were the same weeds year after year."
Mr Ryan recommended growing GM canola in a "safe environment" - a well drained paddock without wild radish issues.
He said growers should be mindful before planting there needed to be a strong demand for GM canola.
"At the moment we are getting discounted on price - it needs to pay for itself," Mr Ryan said.
"Unfortunately the market isn't directing farmers to the technology."