SA set to remain a GM no-grow zone

SA set to remain a GM no-grow zone

Grain
South Australia looks set to remain the only mainland state where the production of genetically modified crops, such as canola, remains banned.

South Australia looks set to remain the only mainland state where the production of genetically modified crops, such as canola, remains banned.

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A last minute disallowance motion has stopped the SA government passing regulations that wuld have allowed GM food crops to be grown.

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THE SOUTH Australian Upper House has voted against the move that would have allowed the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in all parts of that state but Kangaroo Island.

The SA Upper House, primarily on the back of support from the Labor Party, the Greens and the SA-BEST Party, the state-based partner of the Federal Centre Alliance, voted in favour of a motion from Greens MP Mark Parnell to disallow the all-important change to pass.

The Greens have always opposed an end to the South Australian moratorium on the cultivation of GM food crops, set to expire in 2025 after it was extended in 2017 but the ALP and SA-BEST said their support for the motion was more around the way the introduction of GM crops was worked, via a change in regulation rather than via legislation.

Central to Mr Parnell's motion was that the process the Liberal government used to bring the legislation through and that it was exploiting was what effectively a legal loophole to end the previously passed GM moratorium, which was not due to expire until 2025 after it was extended in late 2017 under the former Labor government.

However, proponents of GM technology put little credence in Mr Parnell's claims, with Matthew Cossey, chief executive of Australia's crop science peak body CropLife describing them as a 'weak and shallow excuse'.

The cropping sector is all but resigned to SA not having access to GM technology, used in Australia in canola varieties, for at least the next season.

Andrew Weidemann, chairman of Grain Producers Australia, one of the nation's major grain grower groups, said it was a backward step from the SA government.

"The intervention goes against calls from the agricultural sector and growers in South Australia," he said.

"South Australia remains the last mainland state with a ban on GM and that is a disservice to growers."

GPA director and Riverton, SA, farmer Stephen Ball said it was a classic case of politics triumphing over science.

"The opposition and crossbench against the changes need to listen to growers - we understand our industry, markets and production system better than anyone", said Mr Ball.

"Maintaining the restrictions keeps the grains industry in SA in limbo - they can't move on with using the technology, despite the rest of Australia being able to do so."

Mr Cossey criticised the Greens' allies on the matter, the ALP and SA-Best.

"It is nothing short of ridiculous that in this time of drought and climate change, Labor and SABEST have decided to deny farmers access to a crucial ag-biotech tool to assist in meeting these challenges and let farmers become even more environmentally sustainable."

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