Parliamentary inquiry tests GM report outcome

Parliamentary inquiry tests GM report outcome

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VOICE VITAL: Dairy farmer Rick Gladigau, Mount Torrens, believes farmers should help make the final decision on GM crop production in SA.

VOICE VITAL: Dairy farmer Rick Gladigau, Mount Torrens, believes farmers should help make the final decision on GM crop production in SA.

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After the Independent Review of the SA GM Food Crop Moratorium findings were handed down this month, industry attention has turned to the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry that is expected to deliver its findings into the cultivation of genetically modified crops in SA by mid-year.

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After the Independent Review of the SA GM Food Crop Moratorium findings were handed down this month, industry attention has turned to the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry that is expected to deliver its findings into the cultivation of genetically modified crops in SA by mid-year. 

Select Committee member and Greens MLC Mark Parnell said the independent review had dismissed the unquantifiable aspects of GM crops.  

"Kym Anderson only counted the areas that were easy to count," Mr Parnell said.

"The parliamentary inquiry is broader in its scope and it could result in a range of different options for SA," he said.

"I hope the government take the inquiry's findings seriously - it should not be left to public servants or the present government to make the decision.

"If a decision is made based on the independent report, government will have to test that on the floor of parliament."

But Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone has responded to critics of the independent review, saying claims from 'anti-GM activists' were ill-informed and disrespectful to independent reviewer, agriculture policy analyst Emeritus Professor Anderson.

“Such slurs are a lazy response from people who do not like but cannot dispute the report’s findings," he said.

“The former Labor government spruiked the premiums for SA’s non-GM canola, however the report debunks this view, finding there is no premium for SA when comparing data on prices of grain from neighbouring states."

But Mr Whetstone said he was eager to receive the parliamentary inquiry's findings.

Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps believed this inquiry was vital because the independent report did not use independent, transparent, or open processes. 

"Prof Anderson did not engage with people who had made submissions. Only a few hundred farmers expressed a desire to grow GM canola out of about 5000 graingrowers," he said.

"The parliamentary inquiry will test the report's evidence by holding hearings that will help provide diverse opinions.

"Let the parliament decide on the basis of all the evidence to decide what should happen next." 

CropLife Australia chief executive officer Matthew Cossey said the report's findings confirmed SA had been held back by the moratorium. 

He said SA farmers had been denied the chance to increase on-farm profitability by not having access to GM crops.

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