Politics stands in the way of progress for SA grain producers

Nov 27, 2019

Grain Producers SA is calling on the Marshall Government to immediately reintroduce changes to the Genetically Modified Crops Management Regulations to Parliament following overnight media reports that SA-BEST and Labor will support the Greens’ disallowance motion in the Upper House this evening.

The anti-GM coalition of the Greens, Labor and SA-BEST, led by Greens MLC Mark Parnell, means South Australian grain producers continue to be stymied by those in positions of power who cling to a discredited, outdated view regarding genetically modified crops.

The government’s proposed changes to the Genetically Modified Crops Management Regulations would have seen SA’s GM moratorium restricted to Kangaroo Island.

“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 CEO Caroline Rhodes said.

“Hiding behind a strawman argument about regulatory process doesn’t change the fact that the State Government is precisely following the intent of the Act, as introduced by the former Rann Government in 2004.

“Labor has chosen to ignore the science, by moving to appease anti-GM ideology within its ranks and following the lead of the Greens in the Upper House.  

“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.”

Ms Rhodes said the arguments put forward by the Labor Party and SA-BEST cannot be sustained in regional South Australia.  

“Growers expect outcomes from Parliament, not disagreements over process,” she said.

“What appears to have been lost in this debate is the ongoing economic cost to the industry. 

“Instead of trying to attract investment in new research in gene technology, SA imposes red tape in conducting GM field trials and removes any prospect of commercial adoption.”

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,” he said.

“In disallowing the government’s proposed changes, Mr Parnell and those voting in favour of his motion are not only denying growers on SA’s mainland freedom of choice, they are also denying science.

“It is nothing short of puzzling that these same people who believe in the science of climate change are rejecting the science of GM crops.

“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.

“On behalf of our members, GPSA will keep pursing this overdue reform.”   



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