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Extension of SA's GM Moratorium

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Mark Parnell, SA Greens & John Darley, Advance SA & David Ridgway, Shadow Agriculture Minister (ABC NORTH & WEST 12.07-12.12) Extension of SA’s GM moratorium

(Presenter: South Australia is set to extend its controversial ban on the growing of genetically modified crops until 2025 after a bill put forward by the Greens passed the Upper House by a single vote. While it’s yet to pass the Lower House, the move caught many politicians and the grain sector by surprise … ) (Reporter: The state’s ban on the growing of GM crops will be extended by six years. The motion sponsored by the SA Greens was put to the Upper House of State Parliament overnight … ) Parnell: There’s a lot of farmers in South Australia who are nervous about the technology and what the marketing evidence shows is that there’s a price premium for not growing GM crops …the price that farmers get for their traditional canola is much higher. (Reporter: The GM ban was due to expire on September 1st, 2019 and whether to extend it was meant to be debated later next year. The bill is expected to pass the Lower House given it already has the support of the Government. Mr Parnell says when that happens the state’s farmers will be the big winners.) Parnell: There are lots of farmers who want to grow GM crops but there’s an equal number who don’t. And in fact even the grain producers themselves admit that it’s about 50/50 and that’s why it’s important to make sure that if any decision to change the status quo is to be made it’ll be made by parliament. (Reporter: John Darley … who cast the deciding vote does have some hesitations and will now consult more with growers and grower groups.) Darley: When we came to that decision we discussed matters with grain producers’ organisation and others and the merit I saw in the bill was that the decision to take either introduced GMO in SA or not would be up to the parliament … in my second reading speech I indicated that I would be introducing a motion next year for a committee of inquiry … to get a hold of all the experts in this field and get all the facts about genetic modification of crops. The bill suggest 2025, but the bill also includes a provision whereby any member of parliament can introduce a bill into the parliament to change the situation … and that’s the other attraction; it’s not up to the Government anymore to make that change, it’s up to the parliament and any member of parliament can introduce a bill for that purpose. (Reporter: …it has been a week of wins for the Greens on the agricultural front. On Wednesday the Greens put forward a successful motion that will see the Parliament of South Australia issue a formal request to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to split the Federal Agriculture and Water portfolios into separate government departments. It crossed party lines to get the support of Labor and the Liberal Opposition. But while the Opposition supported that move, it was blindsided by the extension of the GM ban … ) Ridgway: We knew that it was going to come to a vote yesterday but very surprised that the Government was prepared to – in fact the Government want to take it further, they wanted to actually increase the moratorium to 2028. Very surprised that both they and … John Darley were prepared to support it when clearly we’ve had no review, we’ve had no sort of … check and balance to make sure it’s the right thing to do for South Australian producers. (Reporter: The South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is a strong and vocal supporter of the GM ban and earlier in the said he would not be pressured by the grains industry to scrap it. In July he told the ABC’s ‘Landline’ program: ) Premier: The truth is … there are not a lot of votes out there in country South Australia for us … so in some ways we’re sort of free of the electoral imperatives about this; we’re trying to do what’s right rather than what’s popular. (Reporter: Right for the consumer or the farmer?) Premier: Right for South Australia, putting South Australia first. (Reporter: Mr Ridgway says the Premier’s attitude is arrogant.) Ridgway: And I think there was a classic example last night that was just an arrogant, out of touch approach from the Government … we know that the people want us to have a look at it, they know that we want to have a review just to quantify what the benefits are and right now we’re not going to have that. (Reporter: The ABC has contacted South Australia’s Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell for comment but a spokesperson said he’s too busy today to respond.)

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