Grain Producers SA has welcomed an apparent breakthrough to legalise the commercial cultivation of GM crops in South Australia, following an announcement in Parliament today.
Under the Opposition’s proposed amendments, local councils will have a time-limited ability to apply for designation as a GM-free area for trade and marketing purposes.
GPSA CEO Caroline Rhodes said this may represent an opportunity to break the political deadlock over GM crops.
“GPSA firmly believes growers deserve the freedom to choose to grow the cereal, legume and oilseed varieties that best fit their farming system,” she said.
“This bipartisan compromise will hopefully serve as an orderly transition towards removing restrictions on GM crops in SA, after 16 long years under the current moratorium.
“Under the proposed framework, the final decision on GM-free zones will still reside with the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development.”
Ms Rhodes said GPSA applauded the Marshall Government for securing the political support necessary in Parliament.
She also acknowledged the Opposition, which had taken a new policy direction on the issue under Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas and Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Regions Eddie Hughes.
“While Labor’s proposed framework is not in absolute alignment with GPSA’s preferred policy position, this model may represent an acceptable compromise to enable the commercial cultivation of GM crops from 2021,” she said.
“On behalf of growers, GPSA has been working diligently with both the Government and the Opposition in order to bridge the political divide and to provide SA growers legislative certainty.”
The House of Assembly will now scrutinise the proposed legislation before it moves to the Legislative Council.
“GPSA’s clear policy preference is for the entire Act to sunset on 1 September 2025 and for Kangaroo Island to be incorporated in the proposed regime.”
Ms Rhodes said it was important to restore trust in SA’s agricultural sector by allowing access to GM technology, to enable producers to cope with a changing climate and other production constraints.
“We trust farmers to make responsible decisions on whether or not to adopt GM Crops. After all, it is in their interest to do so,” she said.
“For farmers, GM crops are just another tool they can use in their business, based on their environment, commodity prices, their farming system, and their agronomic requirements.
“SA farmers should be able to make the same choices as interstate farmers. The moratorium only removes the option of using GM tools which have been independently proven to be safe and effective, thereby placing SA farmers at a disadvantage compared to their interstate counterparts.
“It’s time to unlock the potential of GM crops in South Australia.”
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