South Australian government vows to fight bill reinstating ‘archaic’ GMO crop moratorium

| March 4, 2020
Credit: Friends of the Earth
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The Marshall Liberal Government will stand firm in its support for South Australian grain growers’ campaign to enjoy the same freedom of choice available to their interstate neighbours when it comes to growing genetically-modified crops.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the Marshall Liberal Government will oppose SA Best’s flawed legislation and will continue to re-introduce regulations lifting the GM moratorium on the South Australian mainland if SA Best, Greens and Labor Party disallow them in Parliament.

[Editor’s note: The government announced plans to lift South Australia’s ban on GMO crop cultivation in August 2019. Read South Australia to lift ‘stifling’ GMO crop ban that cost farmers $33 million to learn more.]

“Our farmers deserve regulatory certainty and the confidence to know they can invest in GM seed and plant GM crops if they wish to, with the knowledge our Government has their back and will support them,” said Minister Whetstone. “By giving our farmers more tools in the toolbox we are backing them to boost the agriculture industry, grow the economy and create jobs.”

“The Marshall Liberal Government has introduced a genuine GM Bill in Parliament which will lift the GM moratorium on the mainland and at the same time protect existing markets for Kangaroo Island farmers.”

“We will debate our Bill [the week of March 2.] in the House of Assembly and oppose SA Best’s flawed Bill during debate in the Upper House. Thorough assessment of the SA Best anti-GM Bill shows it is far worse than amendments put to the Government last year and would impose a permanent GM moratorium on South Australia’s primary industries.”

Related article:  UK environment secretary backs relaxed CRISPR crop rules, but says GMO restrictions won't change

“SA Best seek to impose a permanent GM moratorium on Kangaroo Island which is neither supported nor been requested by the majority of Island farmers and grain growers. They will force the Environment Protection Authority to send officers to undertake inspections of farmers’ properties with our without permission at the request of a non-GM farmer.”

Minister Whetstone said seed companies would boycott South Australia and refuse to release GM seeds because of the untested ‘right to damages’ provisions.

“The SA Best Bill is a guaranteed way of ensuring South Australian farmers are forever denied the opportunity and choice of growing GM crops,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Industry have told us they would rather wait five years until the existing laws naturally lapse than see SA Best’s anti-GM legislation go forward.”

Minister Whetstone said the Marshall Liberal Government is committed to supporting our drought-affected grains industry by reforming the state’s archaic GM laws.

“Until our legislation is passed, the Marshall Liberal Government will continue to re-introduce regulations for as long as is needed to provide the entire supply chain confidence to invest in South Australia” [said Minister Whetstone].

“The independent review of the GM moratorium found it had cost the state’s grain growers $33 million since 2004 and would cost industry a further $5 million if extended to 2025.”

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