Local governments will now have a time-limited ability to apply to retain the moratorium on the commercial cultivation of GM food crops for trade and marketing purposes following changes to the Genetically Modified Crops Management Act 2004 (‘the Act’).

GPSA believes that growers should have the freedom of choice to grow the cereal, legume and oilseed varieties that best fit their farming system, including genetically modified varieties. Removing the GM food crop moratorium from mainland SA will enable producers to have the same freedom of choice as growers from other mainland states.

The Australian grains industry successfully and safely manages a complex value chain, and self regulates through best-practice farming systems and processes that effectively manage numerous segregations tailored for various markets. As such, growers’ choice to remain GM-free on their farm will be retained should the moratorium be lifted.

SA’s predominant grain handler, Viterra, has advised GPSA that “Viterra’s position has always been that we can support the choice to grow GM crops by providing handling and quality management expertise and processes to meet the market requirements of handling and segregating both GM and non-GM commodities.”

GPSA’s position is not about picking winning production systems, but rather enabling choice for all producers. Enabling grower choice will allow the use of approved GM crop varieties consistent with the remainder of mainland Australian states, and provide a commercial incentive to fund research in GM technology in South Australia.

In line with the Act’s trade and marketing scope, GPSA commissioned an independent economic analysis of price premiums under the moratorium in 2017. This analysis concluded that growers did not receive a marketing advantage as a result of SA’s GM-free status, and that the only effect of moratorium was to deny the use of safe and effective GM tools.

A short summary of this report and the SA Government’s own high-level independent economic assessment of the moratorium conducted by Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson is available here.

Full copies of the reports are available here:

Any local government looking to make an application for designation as a GM cultivation-free area will have to meet the high threshold set by the findings of these two separate independent economic assessments.

GPSA notes that local governments looking to make an application for designation as a GM cultivation-free area must consult as an explicit requirement under s5A(2) of the Act before any application is made. We would be pleased to address concerns, identify opportunities, and help your organisation to better understand the significance of this legislative reform to our sector.

Please do not hesitate to contact Grain Producers SA for more information: info@grainproducerssa.com.au or on 1300 734 884.