EP councils take collaborative approach to GM consultation

EP councils take collaborative approach to GM consultation

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COUNCILS on the Eyre Peninsula are the first in the state to begin the consultation process with their communities on whether a ban on genetically-modified crops is still wanted.

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COUNCILS on the Eyre Peninsula are the first in the state to begin the consultation process with their communities on whether a ban on genetically-modified crops is still wanted.

Initial consultation will be in the form of a survey, available on the EP Local Government Association website, asking participants whether they support the lifting of the GM moratorium, if they would support an application to remain GM-free and if they would see a financial advantage from remaining GM-free.

People from nine council areas - Ceduna, Wudinna, Streaky Bay, Franklin Harbour, Tumby Bay, Kimba, Cleve, Elliston and Lower EP - will be able to give their feedback and councils will then consider if more consultation is required before making a decision on an application.

LGA of SA president and Tumby Bay District Council mayor Sam Telfer said he expected other SA councils to follow suit.

"I'd suggest other councils and regions across the state will look to do something comparable and get feedback in a methodical way," he said.

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Some SA councils had voiced disappointment the decision-making process was handballed from the state government when they made compromises to get new GM legislation through parliament.

The new legislation included amendments, which gave SA's 68 local governments six months to make an application for the moratorium to continue in their regions.

Mr Telfer said the nine EP councils tackling the community consultation in a collaborative way would minimise the potential cost or process for each council, and still allow them to gain a comprehensive perspective on the issue.

RELATED READING:Councils' GM countdown begins

"On the EP, we decided as there's similarities and comparable agriculture across the peninsula that it would be a decision process we should go through on an EP-wide scale, then disseminate that information back to each individual council," he said.

Mr Telfer said the survey would be targeted at farming and agricultural businesses, as they were the key component when considering an application to the Primary Industries Minister.

"It's clear in the state legislation parameters that they're making decisions based on financial or market advantage and not scientific or environmental aspects, which is covered by the Commonwealth regulation," he said. "As farming businesses within the EP, they're the key component we're targeting and each council is looking to get the perspective of those businesses when deciding if there's any more steps to take in this process.

"As local leaders we have some perspective on what our communities may be thinking, but it's important we get this information from across the EP to make certain we are understanding of those farming businesses' views."

Initial consultation will finish this month, with Mr Telfer hoping comprehensive feedback from each council area can be examined at an EPLGA board meeting on June 26.

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