GM crops Bill set to pass parliament

The Marshall Liberal Government has reached a position that will enable legislation to pass to lift the Genetically Modified (GM) food crops moratorium and allow GM to be grown on mainland South Australia.

Once the legislation passes through Parliament, farmers will have certainty to plan well in advance of the 2021 grain growing season.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the Marshall Liberal Government has negotiated with the Opposition in good faith over amendments which will enable legislation to pass.

Under agreed amendments to the Marshall Liberal Government’s ‘Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designated Area) Amendment Bill 2019’, local councils will have a time-limited ability to apply to be a GM crop cultivation free area and the moratorium will remain on Kangaroo Island.

While councils will be able to apply to have the moratorium continue within their municipality, the final decision will rest with the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Councils will lose the ability to apply to be a non-GM crop cultivation area six months after the legislation being assented to.

With the Marshall Liberal Government’s GM Bill being debated in Parliament today, Minister Whetstone said the agreement is a win for South Australia’s farmers.

“This agreement is a great outcome for South Australian famers who will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of growing GM where that is best for their business,” said Minister Whetstone.

“The legislation will provide farmers with the regulatory certainty they need to invest in GM seed and plant GM crops in time for the 2021 grain growing season.

“After 16 years and millions of dollars in lost economic and research opportunities, it is a historic day for farmers in this state who can look forward to the choice in what they want to grow.

“Lifting the moratorium will not only provide economic benefits for our farmers but it will put South Australia on a level playing field with every other mainland state in Australia which has had access to GM technology for at least a decade.

“By giving our farmers more tools in the toolbox we are backing them to boost the agriculture industry as they battle drought and a changing climate, grow the economy and create jobs.

“The decision to lift the GM moratorium followed a high-level independent expert review, extensive industry and community consultation and the recommendations of the GM Crop Advisory Committee.

“The independent review found the so-called price premiums for being GM-free were a myth and the moratorium has cost South Australian grain growers at least $33 million since 2004 and will cost farmers at least a further $5 million if extended to 2025.”

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