South Australia moves to lift GM moratorium

Grain Central, August 19, 2019

THE South Australian Government has today announced farmers on mainland SA will be given the choice to plant Genetically Modified (GM) food crops next season.

The decision to lift the GM moratorium on mainland SA, but retain it on Kangaroo Island, follows recommendations from a high-level independent review undertaken by Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson AC.

A statutory six-week consultation will commence today and following its completion the Government will introduce new regulations lifting the GM moratorium across mainland SA.

SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the Anderson Review found the GM moratorium in SA provided no price premium compared with GM crop growing in neighbouring states.

“The Anderson Review found 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, harming this state’s ability to attract investment in agricultural research and development,” he said.

Minister Whetstone said earlier consultations found there were farmers on Kangaroo Island who did want the option of planting GM varieties in the future.

“Retaining the moratorium on the Island will provide a chance to prove to existing markets segregation can be as successful and reliable in the South Australian grains industry as it is in other Australian states,” he said.

Welcomed by GPSA

Grain Producers SA (GPSA) has welcomed the government’s decision.

GPSA chair Wade Dabinett said the government’s decision to restrict the moratorium to Kangaroo Island reflected the findings of the independent.

Wade Dabinett. Photo: Grain Producers SA

“We are pleased to see government take steps towards removing this handbrake on our industry and we look forward to an orderly transition during the legislative process,” he said.

Mr Dabinett said the moratorium had prevented SA growers having access to the technology growers in other mainland states had been able to utilise for more than 15 years.

“The independent review by Professor Anderson conservatively estimated the opportunity cost of the moratorium to SA’s grain industry at $33 million since 2004 for canola alone.”

He said GPSA had consistently argued the moratorium offered little in the way of trade and marketing benefits to the majority of agricultural producers in SA, and removed the option of using GM tools which had been independently proven to be safe and effective.

“We strongly believe that growers deserve the freedom to grow the cereal, legume and oilseed varieties that best fit their farming system, and thank the Minister for delivering this vision.

“The government’s decision will go a long way to attracting further investment in research and development in the state, given there will now be a true path to market for GM varieties in SA.”

The statutory consultation commences today with submissions to inform the new regulations accepted until 5pm, 30 September 2019.

In accordance with the Genetically Modified Crops Management Act 2004 formal written submissions will be accepted, and public meetings will be held in Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.

Sources: SA Government, Grain Producers SA

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