Monarto Agriculture Bureau welcome lift on Genetically Modified crops on mainland SA

WELCOMED: Monarto Agriculture Bureau chair Nathan Wegener says farmers in the region now have greater options. Photo: Shutterstock
WELCOMED: Monarto Agriculture Bureau chair Nathan Wegener says farmers in the region now have greater options. Photo: Shutterstock

A lengthy wait for the state's mainland farmers to grow Genetically Modified food crops on SA's mainland has finally been approved this week, but further means a dozen councils' attempts to create GM-free zones are now scrapped.

The GM moratorium was lifted for mainland South Australia in May this year, however state councils had a one-off six-month ability to apply to be designated a GM crop cultivation-free area, which 11 of the 68 Local Government Areas chose to do.

The independent GM Crop advisory committee assessed all 11 applications on the merits of demonstrating an economic benefit from remaining GM-free and provided advice to the state government.

They deemed that there wasn't "sufficient evidence" to recommend designation as an area where no GM crops can be grown.

Monarto Agriculture Bureau chair Nathan Wegener, who acknowledged the frustration the outcome may cause some farmers, said abolishing the ban of 16 years now means greater choice for many primary producers.

"Farmers should always have the option to utilise new technology if they wish to do so and this (approval) allows us to do that as the rest of Australian farmers have done for quite some time," he told The Standard.

Landholders now have the choice to grow GM food crops in time for the 2021 grain season.

The Callington/Monarto farmer, who has held the chairman's seat for three years, explained how bureau members were in support of the change with their submission to council agreeing with findings of an independent scrutiny into SA GM food crops.

"Part of that review outlined that GM crops and non-GM crops can successfully co-exist," Mr Wegener said.

Furthermore, he said it will bring "surety" to people who have land in multiple council zones.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham explained that outside of Kangaroo Island, there was no substantial evidence to "justify any council area remaining GM-free".

He recognised that an "exhaustive" consultation process on lifting the GM ban had been made.

Moreover, he said the change backs SA farmers and researchers to grow the state's agriculture sector and create jobs.

The 11 councils who were refused local GM moratoriums were Adelaide Hills Council, Alexandrina Council, Barossa Council, Berri Barmera Council, City of Onkaparinga, City of Playford, District Council of Yankalilla, Mount Barker District Council, City of Tea Tree Gully, Town of Gawler and City of Victor Harbor.

Full details of the ban's life can be viewed via www.pir.sa.gov.au.