By relinquishing the state's reserve powers to say 'no' to a GM crop on marketing grounds, minister delivers control to central government
In Australia the New South Wales (NSW) state agriculture minister Adam Marshall claims he will lift the moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in July.
There has been a slew of bogus headlines about the move, with claims that it will deliver "multi-billion-dollar" rewards to the agriculture industry.
However, as Bob Phelps, executive director of GeneEthics, pointed out in a press release, there is no GMO ban in NSW. Roundup Ready GM cotton has been grown there since 2000 and Roundup Ready GM canola since 2010.
Phelps said, "What the Minister announced only sacrifices the state government's discretion to say yes or no to the commercial growing of individual GM crops that the Office of Gene Technology Regulation (OGTR) may approve for release.
"By relinquishing the state's reserve powers to say 'no' to a GM crop on marketing grounds, Minister Marshall delivers much more control to Canberra [Australian central government]. The Morrison Government is implementing the Conran report's recommendations, to dismantle regulations and centralise federal power.
"They have ended the Council of Australian Governments' power sharing arrangements, with Ministerial Forums on food, agrichemicals, GM and a host of other policy areas being disbanded.
"Marshall says New South Wales will come into line with most other states on GM crops. Yet all canola-growing states imposed bans on GM canola in 2003, for marketing reasons. Some lifted their bans and gave up their discretions over the years, but Tasmania, the ACT and NT still have no commercial GM crop cultivation.
"The Minister's promises to GM crop farmers of billions of dollars of potential profit is a complete furphy. The discount last week for GM canola throughout NSW regions was $40/tonne, compared with the non-GM varieties.
"Farmers also pay more for GM crop seed, segregation, and transport affecting profits. Under seed contracts, they also bear all legal liability for any GM contamination, though seed companies permanently retain GM seed ownership.
"GM crops yield no more than the best conventional varieties. Despite 30 years of promises, there are also no drought or salt tolerant crops, nitrogen fixing grains, or more nutritious foods, in research and development pipelines.
"High input, intensive, industrial agriculture is in terminal decline. Our governments and agricultural industries must focus their attention and resources on Regenerative Farming Systems that improve our fragile soils, conserve scarce water resources, and feed all Australians well."
The Conran report: https://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/final-report-review-coag-councils-ministerial-forums.pdf