THE future of genetically-modified crops into SA is still in limbo, with more parliamentary debate imminent and crop technology company Bayer waiting on legislative certainty before licensing any SA growers to buy their GM canola seed.
The state government introduced a new round of legislation for debate on Tuesday and SA Best followed suit with a bill of its own on Wednesday.
The new bills followed Greens MLC Mark Parnell reiterating his intent to put forward a disallowance motion against the government's change to regulations in late December, which technically made GM crops legal in SA as of January 1.
The government said its bill would ensure certainty for SA growers, while SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo said his party's bill would allow GM crops to be grown in SA, but with a strict set of safeguards.
He says it gives protection to non-GM farmers and producers, while not imposing major hurdles for growing GM crops.
Due to the political uncertainty surrounding GM legislation, Bayer told Stock Journal they had not licensed any SA growers to plant their GM (Roundup Ready or TruFlex) canola seed.
"We await a concrete decision about the moratorium before we can appoint SA technology service providers and have growers accredited," a statement from the company said.
To abide by regulatory licences and ensure best-practice is adhered to, Bayer runs an accreditation and licensing program for all growers of Roundup Ready and TruFlex canola.
Before planting either of the company's trait technologies, growers must have signed a License and Stewardship Agreement and completed Bayer's accreditation course.
Bayer also confirmed growers could not buy seed from interstate service providers.
"Our products are accessible to growers through distributors and, as such, there is a need for agreements to be put in place to support the commercial distribution in addition to the regulatory and stewardship of our GM technology in the state of SA," the statement said.
"Our accreditation program is an important step in informing growers about how to benefit from the use of our technology on their farm, as well as clarifying their obligations as far as stewardship and herbicide resistance management goes, all of which are common best practice for many farmers.
"At this stage, we have not licensed any growers in SA to plant Bayer's trait technologies, which would be a necessary step for them to purchase seed containing the Roundup Ready or TruFlex traits."
Bayer said they welcomed support for growers' rights to choose to grow GM crops.
"We strongly believe in growers' freedom of choice to access technologies that best suit their farming systems, however, without regulatory certainty, we cannot bring technology to the market," Bayer's statement said.
Bayer said there had been "significant interest" from SA growers in their technology and what requirements would have to be fulfilled to grow RR and TruFlex canola if the GM ban was lifted.
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