Push for debate on GM legislation

Push for debate on GM legislation

Grains
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Legislation is being introduced 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 on Tuesday, 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 on Tuesday, where they announced a bill would be introduced to remove the GM crop moratorium on mainland SA.

ON the steps of Parliament House on Tuesday, Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone has stressed that it was time SA graingrowers had the same access to genetically-modified crop technology as their interstate counterparts.

And despite there only being three sitting days left, the new bill he was introducing to Parliament only mirrored regulation introduced a few months ago so the debate should be had immediately.

"There is nothing new, transparency is there on the table," he said.

"Today every politician in the parliament is aware of what this bill will mean to lifting the moratorium, this has been a long time coming.

"Labor still doesn't have a position. They previously opposed this bill on ideology and sadly they are not listening to the primary sector.

"We took this commitment to the election in 2018, there has been significant consultation before today, plus the technology is backed up by science.

"SA farmers deserve a choice on whether to grow GM crops or not, and to have help in managing the changing climate and economic challenges."

GPSA chairman Wade Dabinett on the importance of GM to SA farmers.

Grain Producers SA has backed the state government, saying the GM legislation introduced should be debated immediately and "get it done".

GPSA chairman Wade Dabinett, who farms at Parilla in the southern Mallee, said the GM moratorium had been "hung over SA farmers' heads for more than a decade".

"The opposition has had more than enough time to come up with a decision on this," he said.

"Last week they voted the proposed regulations down on the basis of process, they said to bring forward a bill.

"The government has now acted and it's time to get it done.

"A vote against this bill is a vote against SA farmers."

Earlier in the day, the state government said it would introduce legislation to remove the moratorium to grow GM crops on the SA mainland, after Labor, SA Best and the Greens combined last week to vote against similar regulations previously introduced by the government.

"Last week, we were challenged to bring forward legislation so we are doing exactly that," Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said.

"We will be asking the Parliament to deal with the Bill this week to provide our farmers with certainty for planning their 2020 crop."

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Grain Producers SA 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."

Speaking before the release of the legislation, Opposition primary industries spokesperson Eddie Hughes had said while the Labor Party didn't support lifting the moratorium, they would "look at what is before us and then have our internal debate as part of that".

"We'd have to see the legislation to see what is in the legislation, and weigh all of the factors at work," he said.

"At the end of the day, you want to do the right thing by the environment, by the consumer and by the farmer, so I think a deliberative and reflective process is a worthwhile approach, and going through the parliament in a fuller way is one part of doing that."

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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