The moratorium on growing genetically modified crops in SA

Oct 28, 2016

The issue

The SA Government has declared a moratorium on growing genetically modified crops in South Australia until 2019. This is despite the fact they are grown in every other mainland state of Australia.

GPSA is yet to see any evidence that SA farmers are getting paid more for their grain or have any other market advantage because of the moratorium. SA farmers are falling behind by not having access to GM technology and the moratorium is impacting SA’s ability to attract investment from plant breeding companies to carry out research and release new varieties.

South Australian grain producers have a long history of innovation and adopting new technology to improve productivity which is being impeded because of the moratorium.

GPSA’s position

GPSA’s policy is that growers should have the freedom of choice to grow the cereal, legume and oilseed varieties that best fit their farming system, which means having access to genetically modified crops.

GPSA believes growing GM crops should be a business decision for individual growers and not a philosophical debate. Many SA grain producers have seen benefits in other states of growing GM crops and want to see those benefits delivered in SA. In addition, SA canola is consistently selling at a lower price than Victorian canola where GMs are grown, showing there was no financial benefit to grain producers being GM free.

GPSA believes the benefits to a farming system of using GM crops include:

  • Increased weed control options and reduced reliance on chemicals for weed control.
  • Increased crop rotation options.
  • Increased production per hectare.
  • Increased competitiveness nationally and globally.
  • Increased profitability for individual grain growing enterprises, which contributes to higher employment and jobs growth.

Australia has an enviable regulatory system governing food safety through Food Standards Australia New Zealand which assesses each new genetic modification for its potential impact on food safety and does not approve a food unless it is safe to eat.

FSANZ states it compares GM food on a case-by-case basis with a similar, commonly eaten conventional food from a molecular, toxicological, nutritional and compositional point of view to find out if there are any differences between GM food and its conventional counterpart, which is already known to be safe to eat.

FSANZ states that if the genetic modification caused an unexpected effect in the food, such as increasing its allergenicity or toxicity, it would not be approved. To date, FSANZ has identified no safety concerns with any of the GM foods assessed. Other national regulators who have independently assessed the same GM foods have reached the same conclusions.

All policy points