Parliamentary committee on GM crops visits KI

Parliamentary Upper House select committee into GM crops visited Kangaroo Island last week to listen to KI Pure Grain and local crop farmers.

The State Government on Wednesday, February 20 publicly released the independent review of the South Australian Genetically Modified (GM) Food Crop Moratorium.

One solution would be for KI to retain its GM-free status, even if the rest of the SA allowed GM crops.

The Parliamentary delegation started with a visit to the KI Pure Grain grain handling facility on Arranmore Road.

They were given a tour of the operation by site manager Dennis Jamieson and CEO Shane Mills was also present.

KI Pure Grain told the committee members that KI farmers relied on getting a premium for their grain and cereals in order to overcome high freight costs.

"We are all working together for a better product," Mr Jamieson said. "And because of the freight costs, everything has to be aimed at niche markets."

Over the years, the Island's grain marketing company had built up an excellent relationships, particularly with the Japanese who paid a premium for KI's GM-free canola.

Relaxing the GM moratorium on the Island, would make it much more difficult to keep the Japanese contract, Mr Mills said.

"Our premium relies on our non-GM status and separation on the Island could exist but we would lose our advantage," he said. "It would make it very difficult to maintain our contracts."

The committee was told how the Island canola must be regularly tested to ensure that it was GM free and also that chemical residues from pesticides and herbicides were below acceptable levels.

KIPG even had to provide spray diaries so that crops could be traced back to individual farmers. 

The delegation consisted of John Darley MLC, of the Advance SA Party and committee chair, Emily Bourke MLC of the Labor Party, John Dawkins MLC of the Liberal Party and Mark Parnell MLC of the Greens, who were joined by Dr Margaret Robinson, a Parliamentary research officer and committee executive officer Anthony Beasley. 

In other grain news, Coopers has just taken out the 2019 Maltster of the Year title at the World Barley, Malt and Beer Conference held at the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland.

Coopers' Maltings manager Doug Stewart accepted the award on Coopers' behalf, and said it was a remarkable result given that the Regency Park plant produced its first batch of malt in November 2017.

The $65-million maltings plant has a working capacity of 54,000 tonnes of malt annually, of which Coopers uses about 16,000t.

"We also are flexible enough to be able to produce special single-origin malts for the craft beer and distilling sectors. These have included malt from Westminster barley grown on Kangaroo Island, Schooner barley from the Murray-Mallee and Commander barley from the Barossa Valley."