With the ban on growing genetically-modified crops in SA extended until 2025, moratorium supporters say the next step is to change labeling laws to allow consumers to identify products with GM-produced ingredients.
Greens MLC Mark Parnell said consumers were increasingly wanting to know what was in their food and how it was grown.
“The demand for consumers to know more about the products and services they buy and consume is growing, and that includes GM,” he said.
“If we wanted to have special laws for labelling of GM ingredients in our foods sold in SA, we can do it under state law.
“If the community demands the right to know that all of the ingredients in those biscuits are properly labelled so you know whether it’s GM or not, the state government, in my view, has the power to introduce those labeling laws.
“We’re the only ones with drink deposit legislation for special labels for SA, we could do that for GM food as well.”
The labelling proposal and the background of the GM moratorium was discussed at the SA GM-free Election Forum in Adelaide on Monday night, ahead of next month’s state election.
In committing to the moratorium, Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell said it was too important to the state’s farmers and the market to give it up.
Mr Bignell considered international markets a priority and praised KI Pure Grain’s efforts in finding a market in Japan to attract a premium for its canola, but said other farmers were not taking the same approach.
“A lot of our farmers, the broadacre farmers, think about how many bags to the acre and how many dollars per tonne, and they’re so far removed from the market, and it’s not their fault – it’s the system that’s there.
“They (farmers) feel that they have very little control over the end point and what price they’re going to get and the marketing of that, and so it needs to be a whole chain of people working together along that chain of the farmer right through to the consumer.”
Focusing on global marketability, Mr Bignell said he was working with one of the fastest growing food retailers in the world, United States-based Wholefoods, because is was focusing on non-GM.
“We’re working with them to try and get SA produce into those stores,” he said.
Future independent GM reviews supported
While the Liberal Party supports the moratorium on genetically-modified crops, Opposition agriculture spokesperson David Ridgway said he was committed to commissioning an independent review of the quantitative benefit of the ban should they win the election.
“We have made it very clear that if we’re elected that we will make sure we do a proper economic study into the value of the moratorium,” he said.
“If there is a financial benefit, and a benefit to our South Australian economy by being GM-free that we can quantify and measure, I don’t have a problem with recommending continuing the moratorium, but we just don’t know and we’ve never been able to get that information.”
Representing Nick Xenophon for the SA Best party at Monday’s GM-free forum, candidate for the seat of Waite Graham Davies said the party supported the moratorium but would like to see a review or study on the entire supply chain in the state.
“So keep the moratorium, and if this full study and a complete study was done, and it showed everything in an open, honest and transparent manner, then that’s up for debate,” Mr Davies said.
“(But) if one’s going to look at the study, it must be on the economics, on the legalities, on the supply chain. To do it, you’ve got to look at the whole thing.”
Greens MLC Mark Parnell agreed that a future debate on GM was necessary.
“We need a broader debate, we want a larger range of voices, (and) I’d say, of course, the study needs to go beyond the pure economics,” Mr Parnell said.
Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell encouraged those passionate about moratorium to continue to contact the members of parliament and make noise to tell them why the GM ban is important, because one day the moratorium could be lifted.
“One criticism I might have on the non-GM movement, is because we’ve had a moratorium on it in SA, you’ve taken that for granted,” he said.