GM BAN TO BE LIFTED: NSW
The lobby behind the spread of genetically-modified (GM) techniques is once again gaining momentum in Australia, continuing their influence on agriculture and farming.
It has been announced that New South Wales will become the next state to lift their moratorium on GM crops across the state, ending an 18 year ban in July.
Adam Marshall, current Agriculture Minister, said the move was expected to deliver a multi-billion-dollar boost to primary industry.
“The potential agronomic and health benefits of future GM crops include everything from drought and disease resistance, to more efficient uptake of soil nutrients, increased yield and better weed control,” Marshall said on Tuesday.
The NSW government forecasts GM technology could see farmers boost production by almost 10 per cent and save them up to 35 per cent on overheads. They are hoping they will embrace the changes with open arms.
“This is also great news for consumers as by lifting the ban we are empowering companies to invest in GM technology that has the potential to remove allergens such as gluten, improve taste and deliver enhanced nutrition,” he said.
Genetically modified canola, cotton and safflower – grown for its oil – has been grown in NSW since 2008 under an exemption allowed for those three crops.
Now, the lid will be completely lifted on all kinds of GM crops across the state.
The NSW Farmers Association welcomed the decision, provided producers had a choice and any genetically modified organism was approved by an independent, science-based Australian regulator.
It says farmers who want to cultivate GM crops should have the opportunity to make ‘informed choices’ about what to sow.
“For farmers, it’s all about the right to choose,” NSW Farmers President James Jackson said.
“We do have confidence in the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator as an independent science based regulator that will balance the risks and benefits of different GM crops.”
Troubling to see the farmers representative group is on board with this plan, despite many concerns about GM crops and practices across the world.
It seems it is yet again up to the voices of the few to fight back against this change.
Not all are happy with this decision, including the organic farming community and other voices in the world of self-sustainable food production.
Representatives say regulators need to ensure there is no contamination from windblown seeds and pollen from genetically modified produce.
Tim Marshall, Chairman of the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia, which has a business certifying organic produce says “they simply don’t think that GM technology is necessary.“
“Organic farmers will now have the problem of contamination of their fields by windblown seed and pollen from GM crops that threatens their viability as organic farmers.”
In 2014, Western Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh lost his long-running and bitter legal action against his neighbour after claiming GM canola had drifted onto his Kojonup sheep, oats and rye farm.
Marshall is very concerned organic farmers will lose markets and they will have to pay for the wind breaks and lack of cropping boundaries that they need to protect their own crops.
“If [GM technology] is going to be used, there needs to be some protection for organic farmers.”
NSW Greens MP Tamara Smith MP was also a lone voice in the political sphere, stating that ending the ban posed an unacceptable threat to ecosystems.
“The real problem with genetically modified crops is they allow a system in which just a few companies hold immense power over our food supply,” the member for Ballina told AAP.
“We should be focusing on increasing the resilience of our food crop. It’s very disappointing that the NSW government is focusing on industrial agriculture and GM crops instead of regenerative agriculture, which the rest of the world is moving towards.”
We still have very little understanding of the long term of impacts of genetically modified crops on the environment, and human and animal health.
Despite this, Australia has been incrementally breaking down the walls to unleash a new era of genetically modified, science-influenced food and crop.
A NATIONAL TREND
Bob Phelps, Director of lobby group Gene Ethics Australia, said the plan to end the GM ban by amending regulations would betray the parliament and the people of South Australia.
The map below shows sites of licences granted by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator for genetically modified organism trials:
The normalisation of GM techniques has also now expanded beyond crops, with the Australian government deregulating CRISPR gene-editing methods and products at the end of 2019, in a move experts said threatened organic production.
The Gene Technology Amendment (2019 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2019 outlined the plans for the changes, removing requirements for the use of tools in which proteins cut DNA at a specific target site. As long as the tools allow the host cell to repair the “break naturally”.
Members and affiliates of Gene-Ethics Australia spoke on the threat these changes pose to the world stage, given Australia’s significant contribution of 51% of the world’s organic food produce.
Now, anything goes. Scientists using the “second generation” of genetic manipulation technology have used gene-editing to alter the DNA of breed of cattle to help improve ‘sustainability’ of the product in the future.
GM has come along way since the days of simply canola, cotton and safflower. Not only involving crops, but DNA alteration of animals and more.
Our farmers have been through enough and need our support to stop Agenda 2030.
For more TOTT News, follow us for exclusive content:
Facebook — Facebook.com/TOTTNews
YouTube — YouTube.com/TOTTNews
Instagram — Instagram.com/TOTTNews
Twitter — Twitter.com/EthanTOTT