State Government willing to back GM Select Committee recommendations

The Marshall Liberal Government will support all the recommendations adopted by the Parliamentary Select Committee into the cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops if the moratorium is lifted on mainland South Australia.

The Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designation of Area) Variation Regulations 2019 was recently introduced to lift the moratorium on GM food crops on mainland South Australia from 1 December 2019.

The new regulations were introduced following an extensive process of public investigation and consultation on the state’s GM moratorium, including a high-level expert review, consultation with the Genetically Modified Crop Advisory Committee and an extensive process seeking feedback from industry and the public.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the State Government will respond to the Parliamentary Committee by working with the grains industry to support efforts to create and maintain premium markets for non-GM produce if the moratorium is lifted.

“The Parliamentary Select Committee into GM crops in South Australia made three recommendations relating to supporting greater marketing opportunities and assistance of non-GM produce, which our Government will support if the moratorium is lifted on mainland South Australia,” said Minister Whetstone.

“If the Parliament disallows the regulations, there is no benefit in the State Government supporting the Select Committee’s recommendations, and we will not.

“A majority of evidence taken during the Select Committee supports the Marshall Liberal Government’s decision to lift the moratorium on mainland South Australia.

“The Parliament cannot ignore the evidence provided to the committee and continue to leave a moratorium in place based on ideology which is costing farmers in South Australia real money and denying them a basic right – choice. 

“South Australian farmers should have the same choices to use new and improved crop varieties to tackle drought and climate change as farmers enjoy in our neighbouring states.

“Under the new regulations, if a farmer wants to remain GM-free they can do so, just as segregation has proven to be successful and reliable in other Australian states.

“I note the Advisory Committee, which was set up under the former Labor Government, recommended the Government lift the GM moratorium on the South Australian mainland but maintain the moratorium on Kangaroo Island.

“The independent review found the GM moratorium had cost the state’s canola farmers at least $33 million since 2004, would cost at least an additional $5 million if extended to 2025, had discouraged investment in public and private research and failed to provide a premium compared with prices paid to growers in neighbouring states.

“The Marshall Liberal Government has a strong reform agenda to strengthen the state’s economy and this decision will be an enabler to growing our agriculture sector. We are committed to supporting the $2 billion South Australian grains industry to be vibrant, productive and competitive.

“This reform will help increase farm profitably and drought resilience, create job opportunities in our regions, grow the state’s economy and attract greater research investment.

“As a result of the independent report’s findings and majority support of the public consultation, it is time to lift the moratorium on the mainland and allow farmers the opportunity to make informed choices about what to sow, based on their individual businesses and specific conditions.”

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