Govt to introduce legislation to lift GM ban

Govt to introduce legislation to lift GM ban

Grains
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Legislation will be introduced today to remove the GM crop moratorium on mainland SA.

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GPSA chairman Wade Dabinett with Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone at Parliament House today, where they announced a bill would be introduced to remove the GM crop moratorium on mainland SA.

GPSA chairman Wade Dabinett with Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone at Parliament House today, where they announced a bill would be introduced to remove the GM crop moratorium on mainland SA.

THE state government has announced it will introduce legislation today to remove the moratorium to grow genetically-modified crops on the SA mainland.

New regulations to lift the GM crop ban in SA, except for Kangaroo Island, were meant to take effect on December 1, but Labor, SA Best and the Greens combined last week to support a disallowance motion.

Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said it was time for SA to be brought in line with the rest of the country when it comes to GM crops.

"Last week we were challenged to bring forward legislation so we are doing exactly that and we will be asking the Parliament to deal with the Bill this week to provide our farmers with certainty for planning their 2020 crop," he said.

"The Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designated Area) Amendment Bill 2019 will designate KI as the only place in SA where the GM moratorium will exist from January 1, 2020, until it expires on September 1, 2025, as per current arrangements.

"Lifting the GM crop moratorium will allow SA farmers to have the same choices as farmers in our neighbouring states, which will increase productivity and create jobs."

Mr Whetstone said keeping the moratorium in place is costing SA farmers real money and denying them a basic right - choice.

"New and improved crop varieties will also help farmers tackle drought and climate change as we look to provide our graingrowers with as many tools as possible," he said.

"The decision to lift the GM crop moratorium followed extensive industry and community consultation, as well as the findings of the high-level independent expert review undertaken by Professor Kym Anderson and the recommendations of the GM Crop Advisory Committee.

"The independent review found the GM moratorium has cost SA graingrowers at least $33 million since 2004 and will cost farmers at least a further $5m if extended to 2025."

Mr Whetstone said the GM moratorium has failed the state over the past 15 years.

"Not only have the promised premiums failed to eventuate, SA farmers have been penalised by being GM free," he said.

"The day after Labor, SA Best and the Greens combined to block lifting the GM moratorium, SA canola was trading $60 below the price of non-GM canola in WA, $29 below the price of non-GM canola in NSW and $10 less than the price of non-GM canola in Vic.

"Over the past 15 years, the GM moratorium has failed dismally and has achieved little more than to punish our farmers and discourage research and investment.

"It is time for politicians to put ideology aside and have trust in the ability of our farmers to grow the state."

If the Bill does not pass Parliament this year, the state government will reconsider regulatory options to provide choice to farmers.

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Grain Producers SA has welcomed the government's swift response to last week's disallowance motion.

GPSA CEO Caroline Rhodes said the new Bill would apply pressure to all sides of politics to form a policy position on GM crops, rather than hide behind regulatory procedure.

"GPSA calls upon SA-Best and Labor to put politics aside, listen to the science and economic evidence, and back this long overdue reform for the benefit of regional SA," she said.

"This issue needs to be settled this week to give farmers certainty for the 2020 season."

Ms Rhodes said it was time Parliament focused on those directly impacted by the GM ban and allowed farmers to make their own choice about adopting GM crops approved safe by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator.

"Not only do growers want certainty, they want the freedom of choice to grow the crops which best suit their individual farming systems," she said.

"The disallowance motion only passed last week on a technical procedural argument.

"The momentum is behind SA growers and as we have seen from public consultation, the weight of public opinion is in favour of growers having freedom of choice.

"GPSA will be seeing this debate through until the very end. We will continue to engage with representatives from both sides of the political divide to achieve a sensible outcome for growers."

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