Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance has welcomed South Australia’s decision to maintain its moratorium on the commercial production of GM crops as a responsible move to protect the interests of consumers and export markets.
Mr Chance said South Australia had clearly recognised that GM food crops were rejected by the majority of consumers.
The Minister endorsed South Australia’s decision to remain GM-free because it meant both States would be able to maintain their clean and green image, making it easier to promote their produce to export markets. Significantly, the South Australian decision now meant that Australia’s leading grain export States would remain GM-free.
New South Wales and Victoria recently decided to allow GM canola to be grown this year but Mr Chance said farmers in those States needed to realise that there was no turning back once the moratorium had been lifted.
“After much discussion about the introduction of GM technology, I’m not aware of any compelling reasons to justify removing the moratorium for food crops in WA,” he said.
As chairman of the State’s GM Industry Reference Group, Mr Chance said he was well aware of the risks of introducing the technology when there were many issues yet to be resolved. Risks included the loss of current market premiums, the potential loss of markets, the inability to segregate crops and increased on-farm costs.
The Minister said there was also a lack of independent information about the performance of GM canola in Australian growing conditions and evidence of strong rejection by consumers both in Australia and in important overseas markets.
Until all these issues were resolved, Mr Chance said he believed that the only responsible course by any government would be to maintain a very cautious approach to the technology.
“South Australia has now joined WA and Tasmania in recognising that GM crops could harm our trading relationships and Australian consumers have clearly demonstrated that they want to maintain our clean and green image,” he said.
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