Government stands firm on GM crops freedom

The Marshall Liberal Government will stand firm in its support for South Australian grain growers’ campaign to enjoy the same freedom of choice available to their interstate neighbours when it comes to growing genetically-modified crops.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the Marshall Liberal Government will oppose SA Best’s flawed legislation and will continue to re-introduce regulations lifting the GM moratorium on the South Australian mainland if SA Best, Greens and Labor Party disallow them in Parliament.

“Our farmers deserve regulatory certainty and the confidence to know they can invest in GM seed and plant GM crops if they wish to, with the knowledge our Government has their back and will support them,” said Minister Whetstone.

“By giving our farmers more tools in the toolbox we are backing them to boost the agriculture industry, grow the economy and create jobs.

“The Marshall Liberal Government has introduced a genuine GM Bill in Parliament which will lift the GM moratorium on the mainland and at the same time protect existing markets for Kangaroo Island farmers.

“The measures our Bill have been widely consulted with the South Australian community and endorsed through those consultations.

“We will debate our Bill this week in the House of Assembly and oppose SA Best’s flawed Bill during debate in the Upper House.

“Thorough assessment of the SA Best anti-GM Bill shows it is far worse than amendments put to the Government last year and would impose a permanent GM moratorium on South Australia’s primary industries.

“The SA Best legislation has not undergone sufficient consultation, which may account for some of the serious flaws in the Bill.

“SA Best seek to impose a permanent GM moratorium on Kangaroo Island which is neither supported nor been requested by the majority of Island farmers and grain growers.

“They will force the Environment Protection Authority to send officers to undertake inspections of farmers’ properties with our without permission at the request of a non-GM farmer.

“The EPA would not be able to refuse to undertake a crop inspection even if the request is unreasonable."

Minister Whetstone said seed companies would boycott South Australia and refuse to release GM seeds because of the untested ‘right to damages’ provisions.

“The SA Best Bill is a guaranteed way of ensuring South Australian farmers are forever denied the opportunity and choice of growing GM crops,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Industry have told us they would rather wait five years until the existing laws naturally lapse than see SA Best’s anti-GM legislation go forward.”

Minister Whetstone said the Marshall Liberal Government is committed to supporting our drought-affected grains industry by reforming the state’s archaic GM laws.

“We will negotiate with Labor and willing cross-bench MPs to seek agreement to pass our GM legislation and provide long-term certainty for the industry,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Until our legislation is passed, the Marshall Liberal Government will continue to re-introduce regulations for as long as is needed to provide the entire supply chain confidence to invest in South Australia.

“The independent review of the GM moratorium found it had cost the state’s grain growers $33 million since 2004 and would cost industry a further $5 million if extended to 2025.”

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