The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is dismayed at the shortsighted and ill-informed members of the South Australian Upper House who voted to extend a ban on genetically modified (GM) crops in the State for an additional seven years.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the move to continue the moratoria on GM crops until 2025 would, without a doubt, curtail the fortunes of the State's grain growers.
“Growers in all other grain producing states are successfully growing GM canola and benefiting from the herbicide resistance, increased drought tolerance and enhanced yields that GM technology delivers.”
“The actions by the South Australian Upper House effectively puts the State's growers behind their national counterparts and, of equal concern, behind their international competitors.
“Frustratingly, the decision is at odds with established science and economic modelling and was made, unbelievably, without any consultation with the farm sector," Ms Simson said.
"It is certainly a disappointing situation when a government doesn't bother to consult with the people that its decisions will most affect."
Ms Simson said the science was clear – food from genetically modified crops was as safe as that derived from conventional crops.
“The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) — a respected regulatory body that relies on credible scientific evidence, has approved certain varieties of GM cotton and canola for release in Australia.
“Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) also assesses GM foods to ensure they are as safe as their conventional counterparts, and has approved some GM foods for release into the Australian food supply.
In addition the Productivity Commission in 2016 recommended the removal of the moratoria.
Ms Simson said up to 90% of South Australia's grain was exported.
“South Australian growers compete with global GM-growing farmers most of which also have the benefit of high Government subsidies.
“The world’s global demand for food is growing, in order to feed this demand, farmers, including South Australian grain growers, need to increase productivity.
“GM technology is a critical, safe, tool that will enable growers to do just this."
Ms Simson said ability for GM and non-GM crops to coexist has long been demonstrated both in Australia and overseas, and therefore the claimed benefits of the moratoria would be able to be achieved even in the presence of GM crops.
“Differing regulation in states remains a huge concern and this is a clear example of where Governments are overriding the views of farmers."
The latest national accounts figures revealed Australian agriculture as the fastest growing of all the nation's 19 industries.
"Moves like that in South Australia today, serve to tie one hand of our ag sector behind its back, at a time when the industry is a driving force in our nation's economy."