Genetically Modified Crops
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:57): On 4 July last year, I moved a motion to establish a committee to inquire into the moratorium on the cultivation of GM crops in South Australia. I did this in response to the Hon. Mark Parnell's 2017 bill to ensure the GM moratorium in South Australia would be enshrined in legislation rather than being in place by way of regulation. At the time I supported the Hon. Mark Parnell's bill but gave an undertaking that I would move to establish a select committee to inquire into the matter. At the time I did not have a strong opinion one way or the other on GM crops and South Australia's moratorium but believed it wanted further investigation.
The committee has now finished its inquiry, and the government have also had an independent review into the same matter. As a result of being a member of the committee, I learned a great number of things and have ultimately formed the position that the moratorium should be lifted on mainland South Australia but should be maintained for Kangaroo Island.
South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent in the world. This year, we have seen drought west of Cleve, north-east of Hawker, and east of Eudunda as bad as we have ever seen. I believe we need technology to find ways to help farmers with their business. GM technology can provide crops that are drought and frost resistant with better yields, especially with the advent of climate change. I believe that farmers should be given the choice as to whether they want to use this technology or not. Indeed, this week a number of scientists wrote an open letter supporting the lifting of the GM moratorium. Just like any experts, I know there are a range of opinions on this matter, but I did read what they wrote with interest.
The government's amendments to the regulations lifts the GM moratorium on mainland South Australia but maintains it on Kangaroo Island. I understand there is opposition to the manner in which the government has gone about this in that they amended the regulations rather than bring the matter to parliament for scrutiny. However, I also understand that there is a timing issue here and that, if farmers did not know whether they would be able to grow GM crops or not in the next few weeks, then they would be unable to utilise this technology for another year.
It is because of this that I am not supporting the disallowance motion. I do not agree with the way in which the government has achieved its aim; however, I do not believe farmers should be the ones who are penalised for the government's actions.