25 May 2021
Farmers in New South Wales will be able to access all approved genetically modified (GM) crops, following the government’s announcement in early March that it would not seek to extend the moratorium due to expire on 1 July.
This will bring NSW into line with all other mainland states and Australia’s major international agricultural competitors. Such a decision allows farmers to grow what best fits their needs and business model, which is crucial as they face periods of drought and increasingly harsher conditions in a changing climate.
GM crops are not new to NSW. Farmers have grown GM cotton and GM canola since 1996 and 2008 respectively through specific exemptions.
Since the adoption of GM cotton in the mid-90s, cotton growers have reduced pesticide use by 97 per cent per bale with the average number of insecticide sprays each season down to three, in comparison with an average of 11 sprays prior to its introduction. This significant reduction in insecticide use, coupled with better pest management, has contributed to on-farm savings, reduced CO2 emissions and improved sustainability.
The NSW agricultural sector is highly trained and experienced in managing the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops on farm and in the supply chain. All the processes for accreditation, licensing or stewardship are already in place with the NSW Farmers’ Association in support of the use of approved biotechnology to progress agricultural production and improve choice for all farmers.
The expiration of the moratorium will encourage stronger research and innovation and facilitate access to current and future GM crops approved for commercialisation.