SA parliament chock-full of farmers' friends

SA parliament chock-full of farmers' friends

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SA farmers have a lot of friends on North Terrace, if the Upper House debate on the GM bill is anything to go by.

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I HAVE a question for SA farmers - do you feel like you've got a lot of friends? Plenty of people genuinely looking out for your best interests without a single thought for their own agenda?

You've certainly got a lot of friends on North Terrace, if Tuesday's Upper House debate on the bill to scrap the moratorium on genetically-modified crops is anything to go by.

Politician after politician from a range of parties claimed that they were the one true friend of the state's farmers.

And whether they were promoting the bill, pushing for a plethora of amendments or advocating for the legislation to be voted down, all made a real point to mention that they'd been talking to a huge range of farmers about the issue. I'd love to know the real numbers.

Related reading: GM legislation blocked

Let me change tack for a minute and focus on a scenario where my neighbour wants the ban lifted so they can grow GM canola, but I want it left in place.

Under the present situation, the choices - or lack of them - are clear. My neighbour might not like the situation, but at least they know where they stand.

Let's next imagine the GM ban is lifted. My neighbour chooses to grow GM canola and I pick a non-GM variety. Once again, we both know where we stand and the options available to us. We have the power to make our own choice.

Finally, consider the proposal put forward by Labor this week, where each region or council area gets to decide for itself if it wants to remain GM-free or remove the ban.

This week has shown that finding a consensus on the issue among even a small group of people ... is seemingly impossible.

Who gets their way in this scenario? Me or my neighbour? If I have more land or pay higher rates do I get more say?

What about the broader community? Would more weight be placed on what the local farmers want, rather than the town's shopkeepers? What if the postman is anti-GM, but the publican is pro-GM?

I realise that last week I wrote about the importance of farmers and country people being consulted on this issue, but I think Labor's concept would create greater uncertainty for all involved, with the potential to leave country communities bitterly divided in some areas.

This week has shown that finding a consensus on the issue among even a small group of people - 22 politicians in the Upper House, to be exact - is seemingly impossible.

Do we really want to see a repeat of these events in every council area across the state?

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