THE recently-announced state government review of the moratorium on growing genetically-modified food crops in SA has been met with widespread support.
At the Growing SA conference in Hahndorf on Friday, Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone made good on the government’s pre-election promise by announcing Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson from the University of Adelaide would undertake a “high-level independent review” of the GM moratorium in SA, which is in place until 2025.
“This government sees the need to have a balanced approach to the GM question and this independent review will provide an opportunity for people to provide real evidence as to the benefits or costs of the policy,” he said.
“Once completed, the review will enable better informed policy decisions regarding GM crops in SA.”
Written submissions are being sought until late October, with the review findings announced early next year.
Grain Producers SA chairman Wade Dabinett said the review was “long overdue".
“Our members are becoming frustrated that they do not have the same opportunities in their farming systems that their interstate counterparts have,” he said.
“Growers should have the freedom of choice to grow varieties that best fit their farm systems, which means having access to GM crops.”
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Opposition primary industries spokesperson Eddie Hughes also supported the review, with policy needing to be “guided by the best available evidence – both scientific and economic”.
“I want to ensure that SA’s agriculture industry continues to grow and it is therefore wise to consider all options that will help the bottom line in the industry,” he said.
“But before any decisions are made, it is imperative we hear submissions from farmers and other relevant parties on whether SA should have GM food crops.
“There are some key issues that need to be explored – such as whether GM and non-GM crops can co-exist and whether SA should have an exclusion zone.
“We also need to examine the financial benefits of our non-GM status and to what degree we receive a premium – whether that be locally, interstate or internationally.”
But SA Greens MLC Mark Parnell believes Prof Anderson was not a “good choice” to conduct the review as he was already “on the record as being pro-GM”.
He believes the Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the same issue already under way, with Liberal, Labor, Greens and Advance SA representatives, “made more sense”.
“Two weeks ago it invited public submissions for anyone who wants to have their say,” he said.