A new study which was conducted by Deloitte and commissioned by CropLife Australia, states that without the use of approved crop protection products, crucial food crops including carrots, peanuts and even hops would be commercially unviable.
The report titled The Deloitte Access Economics report found that up to 68 percent – equating to $17.6b of Australian agricultural output, can be attributed to the use of crop protection products, and that the sector itself employs up to 9,250 full time equivalent jobs across the nation.
“Our report highlights the multiple contributions the crop protection industry makes to the economy in areas including employment, exports, manufacturing and trade,” said Deloitte Access Economics Partner Steve Brown.
CEO of CropLife Australia Matthew Cossey said that without the use of approved, modern agrichemicals, Australia would essentially be incapable of commercially producing beer, wine and an array of local produce.
“Our grocery bills would be almost twice as expensive and the variety of local food to which we’d have access would be alarmingly narrow,” Said Cossey.
“…This report demonstrates the relevance and importance of the initiatives set out in the Coalition’s current agriculture policy. It is absolutely vital that Australian farmers have access to the most up-to-date, sustainable agricultural chemical products for the sake of our farmers, our food supply and our economy.”
The study comes at a time when the use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides – particularly in relation to genetically modified crops – have come under much debate.
South Australia announced earlier this month that it will be extending its ban on genetically modified crop production and trials until at least 2019, making it the only mainland state in Australia to have a moratorium on GM.
Tasmania also has a GMO- free moratorium which is currently under review as it is due to expire in November next year.
CropLife states that the Tasmanian agricultural sector has suffered a net loss of $4m per year due to the moratorium on genetically modified organisms, and strongly recommends that the moratorium not be renewed.
In contrast to CropLife’s view, Tasmania Deputy Premier, Bryan Green said that the moratorium has served Tasmania well, and believed that it should continue.
"Being GMO-free is a great fit with the Tasmanian brand and is vital to our success in discerning domestic and international markets,” he said in a statement.
"The current policy aims to position Tasmania in the global marketplace as a producer of food that is genuinely GMO-free.”