Adjourned debate on second reading
(Continued from 18 October 2017)
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (21:45): This bill will extend the current moratorium on growing genetically-modified crops in South Australia. At present the moratorium is due to expire in September 2019. I understand it is the Hon. Mark Parnell's intention to not only extend this expiration date but also to provide a mechanism whereby a parliamentary debate will occur should the decision to lift the moratorium be made.
This matter has been one of great conflict to me. The safety or hazards of GM crops have not been determined. Farmers argue that they want GM crops as they have a higher yield; however, I have received information to the contrary. I have spoken to a farmer who is concerned that the moratorium is a hindrance to South Australia because it may impede us from accessing new technologies which would be advantageous to the agricultural sector; however, I understand that by incorporating the moratorium into legislation rather than leaving it to regulation, it will provide any member of parliament with the opportunity to present a bill to remove the moratorium. This is in contrast to what would occur now, whereby the decision is entirely at the discretion of the government of the day.
Notwithstanding the above, I understand the moratorium is based on whether there is a marketing advantage to being GM free. I do not think there is any dispute that there is a worldwide marketing advantage to be able to say that products are from a state that is entirely GM free. As such I support the Hon. Mark Parnell's bill to extend the moratorium, but indicate that next year I will refer the matter of the GM moratorium to be investigated by a committee. I am not sure yet as to whether this would be referring the matter to one of the standing committees or establishing a select committee, but I am putting on the record that Advance SA believes this matter requires further investigation so that the parliament can make an informed decision about the matter.