The state’s moratorium on growing genetically-modified crops has officially been extended to 2025, with SA parliament’s House of Assembly passing a Greens bill last Tuesday.
Previously tabled and passed in the Legislative Council, Greens MLC Mark Parnell’s Genetically modified crops management regulations (Postponement of expiry) Bill won the support of the Labor government, and Premier Jay Weatherill’s majority ensured the extension’s safe passage through the Lower House.
The move means SA will remain the only mainland state with a ban on GM crops for at least the next seven years, unless both houses of state parliament vote to overturn the moratorium.
In celebrating the bill’s passage through the Lower House, Mr Parnell said the moratorium had delivered a “significant price premium” for local growers compared with GM crops grown in other states.
He said being the only GM-free mainland state was “a significant advantage to SA’s food industry”.
However, National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said the decision would have a detrimental affect on farmers.
She said Greens MLC Mark Parnell’s bill passing the state’s House of Assembly represented a “monumentally bad” day for SA grain growers.
“It has also been deliberately blinkered to the fact that GM and non-GM crops have been coexisting, successfully, for some time in Australia and overseas,” she said.
Ms Simson said while grain growers in other state’s would continue to benefit from the herbicide resistance, increased drought tolerance and enhanced yields delivered by GM technology, SA growers would continue to miss out.
“Up to 90 per cent of SA grain is exported,” she said.
“Without GM technology in the toolbox, the ability of the state's growers to compete on the global stage and to increase their role in feeding the world’s growing population will undoubtedly be curtailed.”
Ms Simson agreed with Grain Producers SA chairperson Wade Dabinett and agricultural opposition spokesperson David Ridgway, in sharing her disappointment in the lack of consultation with farmers about the bill.
“I ask, is the SA Premier and his Cabinet colleagues afraid to talk to farmers?” she said.
“Really, we’re not that scary.”