Consultation has informed three councils' genetically modified crop debates

It's a question of genetics

An array of public opinions have shaped the decisions of three councils as they each decided this week whether or not to support the lifting of the moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in their Council area.

Karoonda East Murray, Mid Murray and Murray Bridge Councils recently took stock of public consultation on the issue, resulting in two of the three councils moving to open the door to GM crops.

Under new genetically modified crop legislation individual Councils can have the opportunity to apply to be a non-GM designated area - with the final decision resting with the Primary Industries Minister.

Murray Bridge Council moved to support the lifting of the GM moratorium.

Although the majority of respondents supported the retention of the moratorium for GM crops, Council said most of these respondents were not involved in primary production.

Council argued that submissions by those involved in primary production were generally supportive of the removal of the moratorium on GM Crops by the State Government.

Some respondents argued that GM restrictions meant local growers had limited access to new varieties of crops that are better suited to our climate, while farmers in other states benefited.

The District Council of Karoonda East Murray, also scheduled to vote on the matter this week, was forced to postpone their decision after four of the councillors raised conflict of interest concerns.

A council representative said that because four of the council members are involved in primary production, they had elected to seek an exemption from the Minister for Local Government.

Coorong Council and Southern Mallee Council have already received exemptions from the Local Government Minister after similar conflicts of interest cropped up.

It is expected that Karoonda East Murray Council's GM crop debate will resume in a special council meeting next week. Their survey results showed only 35 per cent of respondents supported lifting the GM ban in the Karoonda East Murray district.

Mid Murray Council alsoconsulted with its community and the district's primary production industries on the option of whether or not to apply to be a non-GM designated area.

Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess said the majority of respondents were in favour of allowing GM crops to be grown locally and that Council voted accordingly.

"While there are differing views on the topic of GM crop production, our community has indicated that this is one tangible way in which Council can foster economic growth in our region," he said.