Eyre Peninsula farmers will have to wait another eight years at least to be able to plant genetically modified crops after the state government placed another moratorium, or a temporary prohibition, on GM crops until 2025.
The existing moratorium, which is set to expire in September 2019, was supported by the state government and the opposition at the time.
However Member for Flinders and registered grain grower Peter Treloar said being GM free had put South Australia at a disadvantage.
In a recent speech to parliament he said other states had gradually lifted their restrictions on GM crops since the Australia-wide ban in 2004 and South Australia had historically been “world leaders” in farming.
Mr Treloar said the government argued the ban was “necessary to maintain South Australia’s clean, green marketing advantage” but he disagreed with the government’s position that being GM free increased demand and prices for South Australian crops.
He said this meant South Australian crops and grains were cheaper compared to produce from other states, and were less economically competitive and more environmentally damaging.
Mr Treloar said GM crops such as cotton, which was grown in New South Wales and Queensland, showed the advantage of genetic modification due to the reduced amount of pesticide and herbicide used on the crops.
Greens Member of the Legislative Council Mark Parnell said he was pleased the moratorium was secured for another six years and the only way to lift the moratorium before September 1, 2025 would be to have a decision pass both houses of parliament.
“The current moratorium has provided a significant price premium for our state’s farmers compared to GM crops grown in other states,” Mr Parnell said.
“As the only GM-free mainland state, this is a significant advantage to South Australia’s food industry.”
Mr Treloar disagreed GM-free crops attracted a significant price premium, and compared the prices and trading of grain and crops between states.
He said in wheat and feed barley, Port Adelaide traded at a discount, or below market price, to Geelong in Victoria and Kwinana in Western Australia and for non-GM canola Adelaide traded at a two per cent discount to Geelong.
“The government says the premiums are real but, as I pointed out, they are not,” Mr Treloar said.
“It is about being competitive and growers producing commodities that are traded on the world market.
“It is not for government to dictate to farmers what they can and cannot grow
“It smacks of the Eastern Bloc and old Soviet Russia.”