WHILE the news this week has centred on the South Australian government's push to end the state's moratorium on genetically modified (GM), earlier in the month Tasmania took a different approach.
The Tasmanian government has approved the extension of the state's moratorium on GM food crops until 2029.
The decision won praise from anti-GM groups.
"Gene Ethics congratulates the Tasmanian Government on the state staying GM-free for another decade, till 2029," said director of the group Bob Phelps.
He said unlike mainland South Australia, Tasmania would continue to reap the benefits of remaining GM-free in terms of more opportunities to sell into premium non-GM markets.
While Tasmania is not a big player in terms of broadacre crop production, which account for most of the GM food crop production in Australia, through canola and cotton, it has a large horticulture and tree crop industry.
Mr Phelps said his organisation's focus was now on ensuring that a planting breeding practice known as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) remains classified as a form of genetic modification and that plants or animals developed under the system have to get Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) approval before being released.
"Deregulation of CRISPR is (plant science peak body) CropLife's Trojan horse for an end to all GM-free in Australia.
He said allowing unregulated production of GM food crops would slash Australia's opportunities to export to high value European and Asian markets.
"If states grow and export unregulated or unapproved GM food and commodities, key EU and Asian markets are sure to reject them.
"This will cost the GM-free states and their producers tens of millions of dollars and tarnish their high reputation.
However, Matthew Cossey, CropLife chief executive said this was not correct and labelled the decision of the Tasmanian government to extend the moratorium a 'lost opportunity' and criticised the government as being 'weak'.
"It is disappointing to see irrational beliefs and a narrow political agenda based on fear triumph over the weight of scientific and independent economic evidence," he said.
"The Tasmanian Government has chosen to ignore more than thirty years of scientific evidence and instead followed misleading, misinformed and outright false activist positions."
He said Mr Phelps' claims regarding premiums for non-GM product were a furphy.
"There is no indication of any agricultural products attracting a price premium simply because of a whole-of-state GM-free status as proven by the real-world examples in other states and indeed the world."