GM ban 'costing farmers millions'

SA GM ban costs farmers $33m, report finds

Cropping
The ban on GM crops could cost SA graingrowers a further $5m if it is kept in place until 2025.

The ban on GM crops could cost SA graingrowers a further $5m if it is kept in place until 2025.

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SA canola growers are at least $33m worse off because of the state's moratorium on GM crops, according to an independent report released today.

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THE state's moratorium on the cultivation of genetically-modified crops has cost SA canola growers at least $33 million since 2004, according to an independent review released by the state government today.

Furthermore, SA graingrowers stand to lose a further $5m in potential income if the moratorium is kept in place until 2025.

This figure could surge even higher if Omega-3 canola attracts a higher price than existing Roundup Ready canola.

The Independent Review of the South Australian GM Food Crop Moratorium, conducted by agriculture policy analyst Kym Anderson, also rejected claims previously made by the former Labor government and anti-GM advocates that SA grain attracted a price premium due to the GM crop moratorium.

Related reading:SA farmers dudded by political ban on GM crops

“The report comprehensively debunks many of the myths perpetrated by the former government and exposes the costs to SA’s farmers and economy of the GM moratorium," Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said.

The review attracted 216 submissions, with Prof Anderson reporting the majority wanted to see the moratorium immediately lifted. This included organisations representing most of the state's farmers.

GM opponents argue allowing GM cultivation would lead to the contamination of non-GM crops and threaten the operations of organic producers, but Emeritus Professor Anderson came to a very different conclusion.

His report instead said interstate experiences proved segregation and identity preservation protocols were robust enough to ensure successful coexistence of GM and non-GM crops across Australia.

Investment in agricultural science has suffered under the moratorium. - TIM WHETSTONE

One of the core findings of Prof Anderson's report centred on the moratorium's negative impact on the state's agricultural research scene.

“Investment in agricultural science has suffered under the moratorium, with the review finding the GM moratorium has discouraged both public and private investment in research and development in this state," Mr Whetstone said.

“One of the submissions from a highly-ranked SA university argues the removal of the GM moratorium would provide benefit to the state through attraction and retention of research dollars and post graduate students."

Related reading:Independent review of GM moratorium launched

While KI croppers enjoy access to Japan's premium GM-free grain market, Prof Anderson found this access would not be jeopardised by the lifting of the moratorium on the mainland, provided the island remained a GM-free zone.

Other benefits associated with removing the moratorium identified in the report include increased varietal selection, environmental and health benefits from reduced chemical applications and potential productivity and profitability gains helping to increase farmland values.

Mr Whetstone said the government would now consider Prof Anderson's report and its 19 findings before making a decision on the moratorium's future.

As it stands, the ban will be in place until 2025, after an extension bill tabled by Greens MLC Mark Parnell passed parliament with the support of the then-Labor government in 2017.

More to come.

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