SOUTH Australia’s moratorium on growing genetically modified (GM) crops looks set to continue because of an impasse in the state’s Upper House.
It means a proposal by the South Australian Government, led by Liberal Party premier Steven Marshall, to overturn the GM moratorium cannot come into effect this year.
The impasse has come about because the Marshall Government does not have a majority in the Upper House, and the SA Labor Party in Opposition with support from cross-benchers will not agree to lift the moratorium.
SA is the only mainland state of Australia where GM canola cannot be grown.
South Australian farmer and GPA southern director Stephen Ball said the politics and ideologies which had prevented science and the benefits for industry from prevailing were frustrating.
“The Opposition and crossbenchers against the changes need to listen to growers,” Mr Ball said.
“We understand our industry, markets and production system better than anyone.
“Maintaining the restrictions keeps the grains industry in SA in limbo – they can’t move on with using the technology, despite the rest of Australia being able to do so.
“GM crops are not only about pest and pesticide resistant technology, but also about human health.”
Mr Ball said the moratorium prevented SA growers producing omega-3 canola.
In a statement released yesterday ahead of the parliamentary vote, GPSA called on the Marshall Government to immediately reintroduce changes to the Genetically Modified Crops Management Regulations to Parliament following reports that SA-BEST and Labor would support the Greens’ disallowance motion in SA’s Upper House.
“It is now clear that politics has triumphed over policy within the Labor Party, with no clear way forward for the state’s agricultural sector,” GPSA chief executive officer Caroline Rhodes said.
“The industry has developed a plan for the orderly transition to GM crops on the mainland, respecting both the Independent Review and findings of the statutory consultation meetings to retain the GM-free status on Kangaroo Island.
“Instead of disclosing its position on GM crops in August, Labor has dealt a cruel blow to growers in the middle of harvest.”
GPSA chair and Parilla grower Wade Dabinett said growers across the state had been let down by Parliament.
“GPSA has consistently argued the moratorium offers little in the way of trade and marketing benefits to the majority of agricultural producers in SA and removes the option of using GM tools which have been independently proven to be safe and effective,” Mr Dabinett said.
“For my own family and many others like us who live so close to the Victorian border, it is a very bitter pill to swallow to see friends and colleagues just a stone’s throw away on the eastern side of the border who are able to access world-leading genetics while we continue to miss out.”
Mr Dabinett vowed to continue to fight for South Australian growers.
“Growers across the state can rest assured that they haven’t heard the last from GPSA on this issue,” he said.
“We will continue to call on all sides of politics to listen to the science and the economic analysis which clearly shows we are missing out because of the impost on South Australian agriculture that is the GM moratorium.
“GPA stands with farmers in SA and maintains our support for access to GM crops for the best economic outcome for growers,” GPA chairman Andrew Weidemann said.
Source: GPA, GPSA