8 December 2020
South Australian growers can now join their mainland and global competitors in having access to genetically modified (GM) crops from next season.
The news comes after Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, the Hon David Basham MP, declared that all of mainland South Australia’s farmers would be allowed to commercially cultivate the environmentally conscious crops.
This decision, which ends a thorough and open consultation process, is a win for farmers, for science and for a more productive, environmentally sustainable and profitable future for South Australian farming. The ultimate winners will be all South Australians, with the same economic benefits of GM crops experienced in other Australian states, to now flow through SA.
In line with the legislation, South Australian councils had six months to apply to remain GM-cultivation free if they could prove a trade or marketing advantage for doing so. The small number of councils who did apply did so on false premises, rather than on evidence, science and data.
What has been found is the GM status of a region does not impact on the trade and marketing of any other product or produce, including South Australia’s world-renowned wine industry. It’s the high-quality of South Australian produce and farming practices that afford them any premium prices they receive.
Coexistence between GM, non-GM and organic farms has been demonstrated for at least a decade in all other mainland Australian states and for several decades in many other countries.
GM crops have been enabling farmers in other states and around the world to improve yields, reduce carbon
emissions, use natural resources and pesticides more sustainably and protect the soil through no-till farming for decades.
For over 20 years, approved genetically modified crops being grown around the world have resulted in 183 million hectares of land being saved from full tillage cropping. This has led to improved water storage, a significant reduction in soil erosion and native forests being saved from becoming agricultural production land. GM crops are responsible for savings in CO2 emissions of 27 billion kg – the equivalent of removing 90 per cent of passenger cars registered in Australia from the road for one year.
With South Australia embracing this agricultural technology from next season, we will see significant environmental and agronomic benefits, allowing the farming sector in SA and nationally to continue to thrive.