Growers let down by SA Parliament … again

Grain Producers SA is bitterly disappointed that politics has once again prevailed over sensible policy reform after the Government’s Bill to lift the moratorium on genetically modified crops on SA’s mainland was defeated today.

After 15 long years, today’s outcome in Parliament reflects an ongoing battle for farmers to have their voice heard over the noise of anti-GM ideology that has plagued the debate since 2004.

Despite SA-Best MLCs Frank Pangallo and Connie Bonaros declaring their support for GM crops in Parliament, they introduced amendments to the Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designated Area) Amendment Bill 2019 which would have made choosing to grow GM crops completely unworkable for growers.

Ms Bonaros put up amendments which would require producers to seek Environment Protection Authority approval before planting a GM crop, which would include a compulsory on-farm assessment.

Her proposed amendments would also allow any person who cultivates a crop to have the EPA conduct an inspection to test for the presence of GM material. 

Lastly, Ms Bonaros’ amendments would have introduced so-called protections that would require GM producers to pay compensation if an EPA officer determines that contamination has occurred.

GPSA CEO Caroline Rhodes said these amendments would give virtually unrestrained punitive powers to the EPA and would have substantially increased the regulatory burden on growers in SA.

“If passed, these powers would have made growing GM crops unviable in SA,” she said.

“On one hand, Mr Pangallo and Ms Bonaros have declared themselves ‘friends of farmers’, but on the other hand they have put up these amendments which would have been completely unacceptable to the grain growing community in SA.

“Rather than reduce the regulatory burden, SA-Best instead attempted to grant intrusive and unworkable powers to EPA officers. This goes beyond any arrangements in place across mainland Australia and ignores stewardship programs or supply chain protocols developed by industry.

“These amendments gave the Government no choice but to knock them back and we applaud them for standing firm and not compromising on the essential principles which underpin the legislation.

“As soon as GPSA became aware of these amendments earlier today, we met with SA-Best to put forward our concerns and suggest a sensible compromise to strengthen the integrity of GM-free areas, consistent with the Act.

“Unfortunately, we only became aware of SA-Best’s position to ignore GPSA’s concerns as Ms Bonaros and Mr Pangallo spoke on the floor of Parliament this afternoon before they voted against the Bill.

“It is an extremely disappointing outcome for all who had taken comfort in Mr Pangallo’s public statements earlier, both in Parliament and on social media.”

Ms Rhodes said GPSA would continue to fight on behalf of South Australian growers on this important issue.

“It appears partisan politics has won the day, but growers can rest assured GPSA will continue our campaign to restore choice to SA farmers,” she said.

“We hope to work with the Labor Party to help bridge the political divide following a promising undertaking made by Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas and building on our past conversations with Shadow Minister Eddie Hughes.”


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