Report states genetic ban is costing SA farmers

In review: An independent report on South Australia's genetically modified food crop ban has been released with some interesting results. Photo: Supplied.
In review: An independent report on South Australia's genetically modified food crop ban has been released with some interesting results. Photo: Supplied.

A moratorium on genetically modified crops has cost South Australian grain farmers up to $33 million over the past 15 years, according to an independent review.

The information has come from a report, the Independent South Australian Genetically Modified (GM) Food Crop Moratorium, which was carried out by Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson AC.

South Australian Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said the review stated the GM moratorium had discouraged public and private investment in research and development within South Australia.

“The report conservatively estimates the cost to our farmers of the GM moratorium since 2004 is up to $33 million, and if extended to 2025, farmers face losing at least another $5 million," Mr Whetstone said.

“Professor Anderson advises a majority of the non-campaign generated submissions to the review favoured the immediate removal of the state’s moratorium on GM crop production and transport.

“A small number of submitters favoured a proposal to retain the GM moratorium on Kangaroo Island if the review was to result in removing the moratorium on the South Australian mainland.​"

The Kangaroo Island submissions touted that the area would benefit from an exclusion zone to allow for access to the Japanese market for GM-free grain.

Other reasonings of allowing GM crops in South Australia included farmers having more varieties of grain to choose from to suit soils, certain environments and weather conditions, as well as the environmental benefits from less chemical applications.

Mr Whetstone said the government would consider the 19 findings, submissions and factors before making a decision to lift the moratorium.

Overturning the ban would have to include a change of parliamentary legislation as the Genetically Modified Crop Management Regulations 2008 is not set to expire until September 2025. 

Grain Producers SA chair Wade Dabinett welcomed the results of the review.

Mr Dabinett said the costs of the moratorium would continue to cause grain growers to lose funds as new GM varieties were made available.

“We strongly believe that growers deserve the freedom to grow the cereal, legume and oilseed varieties that best fit their farming system," he said.

"The report makes it clear that the industry is able to manage segregation of GM and non-GM varieties, as is successfully managed in other states."

Mr Dabinett said the report showed there seemed to be no premium for South Australian grain, despite the ban.

“The current moratorium on the commercial cultivation of GM crops has run its course," he said.

"The government must now begin the process of removing this handbrake on our industry.”

Grain Producers SA placed one of the 216 public submissions to the review asking to end the ban.

Livestock SA, Primary Producers SA, SA Dairy Farmers and National Farmers' Federation were also among the public submissions which supported lifting the ban while 150 submissions were sent opposing the growing of GM crops in South Australia, most from statements copied through the campaign website https://dogooder.co.

FEEDBACK

The State Government is now seeking feedback from industry, farmers and community stakeholders while also using targeted consultations in an effort to make a final decision.

Written submissions should respond to the information and findings found in the independent report and tackle ideas such as enhancing farm gate returns; reducing red tape on farmers and the supply chain; and growing employment and the state economy.

Closing date on submissions is March 6, at 5pm.

- Details: To view the full list of findings of the report visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/gmreview

This story Genetic ban costs farmers first appeared on Barossa & Light Herald.