Report questions SA's GM crop ban


Friday, 09 March, 2018


Report questions SA's GM crop ban

According to a new report from market analysis company Mecardo, the moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in South Australia does not deliver price premiums to any farmer in the state and, if repealed, would not cause any loss to non-GM farmers.

‘Analysis of price premiums under the South Australian GM moratorium’ was commissioned by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) and Grain Producers SA, in order to provide facts and evidence on the presumed trade and marketing premiums achieved by farmers through the South Australian ban on GM crops. It is available to download at https://www.abca.com.au/materials/reports/.

The analysis compares, on a ‘like for like’ basis, agricultural commodity prices in South Australia against comparable markets in states where the cultivation of GM crops is permissible, such as Victoria and Western Australia. To ensure a thorough examination of the presumed premiums available to food and fibre producers in South Australia, the report analysed a wide range of agricultural commodities based on the value to the South Australian economy.

“Only GM canola and cotton are federally approved for commercial cultivation in Australia; however, the analysis has thoroughly examined all agricultural sectors in SA that contribute to the local economy to correct, once and for all, the misinformation and fear-mongering that has been the basis of the GM debate in the state,” noted CropLife Australia CEO Matthew Cossey.

In direct comparison with similar markets in Victoria and Western Australia, where both GM and non-GM crops are grown, South Australian farmers do not achieve higher prices for their non-GM canola, wheat, barley, wine grapes, wool, cattle, or sheep and lamb. The only agricultural commodity with a premium over a comparable market is pork, but the report states this is a very slim premium, and likely based on supply and demand factors as opposed to the moratorium.

“The ban on GM crops in South Australia does not facilitate any farmer achieving higher prices for any agricultural commodity,” said Cossey.

The report suggests that, should the ban on GM crops be removed, non-GM farmers would not be affected in any way. Not only are farmers not achieving any price premiums under the ban, but they are also being denied the opportunity to experience the benefits of growing safe, sustainable and approved GM products such as canola.

“Recent independent data by Graham Brookes of UK-based PG Economics has shown that GM crop farmers in Western Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland have gained $1.37 billion worth of extra income and produced an additional 226,000 tonnes of canola that would otherwise have not been produced if conventional seeds had been used,” said Cossey. “GM traits in cotton and canola have also contributed to a significant reduction in the environmental impact associated with insecticide and herbicide use on the areas devoted to these GM crops in Australia.

“The long track record of Australian farmers using different agricultural production methods alongside each other reaffirms that all agricultural production methods can and do work to co-exist to deliver the best of Australian agriculture. There is no reason for the South Australian Government to hold the state’s farmers back by preventing them from being able to competitively produce more food, feed and fibre for a growing global population.

“Whatever the result of the state election, the state government must act on the facts and evidence in this report and, in the best interests of the state’s farmers and agricultural sector, remove the unnecessary ban on safe and federally approved GM crops.”

Image credit: ©Pencho Tihov/Dollar Photo Club

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