GM ban holding us back : SA business group


A South Australian business group has called for the ban on GM crops to be lifted for the sake of the food industry. 

South Australia stands with Tasmania as the only states to have a legal ban on GM crops.

Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan says the ban is holding back the regions food industry.

"It is essential that our food-processing sector implements some key initiatives to ensure our long-term contribution to the global food supply chain," he told Adelaide Now.

"Genetically modified crops have overcome many of the challenging conditions faced by growers, and an extensive trial would address the issues, concerns and benefits."

The SA government has stated the ban would continue until 2014 when it is due for a review.

 Despite extensive testing, many groups still believe genetically modified organisms to be a threat to the natural ecosystem.

 However advocates, often from the food industry, say that GM crops often increase yield whilst reducing the amount of pesticides needed to be used.

Opponents of GM crops, which have modified DNA to increase yield and pest resistance, argue the potential health effects are unknown and contamination of GM-free products could destroy Australia’s export industry to countries that maintain a GM ban.

Advocates argue the benefits would particularly help South Australia through increased yields in a dry climate as well as more pest and drought resistant crops.

Whilst many farmers are happy to use GM crops due to the increased yield, some have even sued other farmers due to “contamination”. 

Steve Marsh, a farmer from Western Australia, recently took his neighbour to court () over GM contamination saying that he could no longer sell his canola as certified organic, and hence resulted in a monetary loss.

 “I think this is going to be a huge problem not only the division that’s caused by court cases like this but just the legal liability for people is going to be enormous.” he told the ABC.

The debate has become so heated recently that Greenpeace activists destroyed an entire strain of genetically modified wheat being developed by the CSIRO.

Greenpeace said in a statement that the action was to stop an  “open, risky experiments with something as fundamental as our food and the environment we depend on for life”

 However despite the opposition, Dr Anna Lavelle from AusBiotech, an industry lobby group, saidd the SA ban was a sire national conference in Adelaide.

"South Australia is out of step with the other states except Tasmania and it should consider the issue on the science and the benefits rather than the electoral comfort because very often people have a fear of new technology because of ignorance," she told The Weekly Times

"Tasmania’s position is a marketing one in that being GM-free may help them in the marketplace, but South Australia’s position is more ideological.

"The negatives are that if SA companies want partners to help invest in new technology then those partners will more likely join with firms in the other states, and also the large increase in the use of costly and unsafe chemicals to cope with increasing pest and fungal infections."

What do you think? Would you use genetically modified food in your products? Or would you shy away from these “untested” technology?

image: Daily Mail UK