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Ban Lifted On Growing Genetically Modified Crops In Mainland SA

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South Australian farmers could be growing Generically Modified (GM) crops as early as December, 2019, with the newly lifted moratorium.

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) announced that after “public consultations, a high-level review and advice from the GM Crop Advisory Committee,” the State Government will be lifting the ban from mainland SA.

An independent review was undertaken in late 2018 by Emeritus Professor, Kym Anderson AC.

The report evaluated the costs and benefits of the GM Moratorium to SA agricultural industries and the economy.

Findings concluded there were no premiums for SA grain when comparing prices to neighbouring states.

However, the study did find that when compared to international markets, non-GM price premiums existed for Australian grains. Between 2010-2017, the country’s non-GM export prices averaged 4% high than Canada’s GM crops.

It was also noted that Kangaroo Island’s non-GM canola crops were highly sought after by the Japanese market, and would benefit by remaining under the ban and claiming GM-free status.

Despite this, the review suggests the moratorium had “cost South Australian grain farmers at least $33 million since 2004.”

It was noted the review did not address aspects of gene technology in relation to human health, safety or environmental impacts, which are covered under commonwealth legislation.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone welcomed the lift on the ban, suggesting the reform “will help increase farm profitably and drought resilience, create job opportunities… grow the state’s economy and attract greater research investment.”

The member for Chaffey was also concerned about giving “farmers the choice to take advantage of any new GM crops and pastures… particularly given the challenges with a variable climate.”

As part of the statutory six-week consultation process, PIRSA welcomes formal, written submissions before 5pm, September 30th. There will also be two public meetings held during this time, with one in Adelaide and the other on Kangaroo Island.

For more information about the consultation process, see PIRSA’s website and the Independent Review of the South Australian FM Food Crop Moratorium.