TEN local government areas (LGAs) in South Australia are applying to retain a GM-free status ahead of the SA Government allowing its farmers to grow GM crops including canola.
The Adelaide Hills, Mt Barker, Barossa, Onkaparinga, Yankalilla, Playford, Alexandrina, Victor Harbor, Berri Barmera, and Gawler Councils have all applied to be GM-free on market and trade grounds.
If granted, the exemptions would put these LGAs on the same footing as Kangaroo Island.
“We gather at parliament to insist that David Basham, the Minister for Primary Industries, approves all the applications he receives from councils for their GM-free crop-zone status to be restored, as Kangaroo Island’s is,” farmer Dr Catherine Harvey said.
“Regional economies and the whole state can continue to benefit greatly from the competitive advantage and premium prices to be earned from SA’s GM-free foods and beverages sold throughout Australia and overseas.”
SA Opposition member, Tony Piccolo, is the Member for Light, which includes the acclaimed wine-growing Barossa region.
“The Barossa Council have clearly decided to take this opportunity to create a GM free zone to protect the international brand of the Barossa and support local jobs
and businesses critical to the region’s post COVID-19 economic recovery,” Mr Piccolo said in an October 2 statement.
“A number of councils have acted upon the opportunity to opt out of allowing GM crops in their areas.
“In my own region, the town of Gawler, Light Regional Council and the Barossa Council have all decided or requested that all or part of their council areas should remain GM free.
“These councils have consulted with their communities and their decision to opt out is based on community opinion within their council areas.”
Mr Piccolo acknowledged that some farmers who crop canola in the Barossa region could be affected by the decision, but if the Barossa region lost its GM status it could
do untold damage to the Barossa brand.
“This is not an argument about science but rather the need to protect the green and clean reputation the Barossa enjoys.
“It is a fine balancing act, but at this stage I think the risks of ditching the GM Free status are greater than the potential benefits.”
SA Greens Member of the Legislative Council Mark Parnell unsuccessfully voted to keep the SA GM crop moratorium in place, and also sponsored several bills to compensate farmers for GM contamination if the GM crop ban were lifted.
“Back in May, the Marshall Liberal Government passed new laws giving councils the responsibility to consult with their communities and decide whether they want their council area to be GM-free.
“The Minister for Primary Industries must now honour the democratic decisions of the councils that have applied in good faith to be GM-free, and approve their applications,” Mr Parnell said.
Other LGAs may also still apply for a GM exemption.
Source: Gene Ethics, Tony Piccolo MLC