The NSW Nationals in the state government will lift the ban on the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops by allowing an 18-year moratorium to lapse, increasing agricultural competitiveness and productivity.
NSW Nationals Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said by lifting the ban on July 1, 2021, the government was opening the door for the state’s primary industries sector to embrace new GM technologies in the field – potentially reaping billions of dollars in benefits across NSW.
“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,” Mr Marshall said.
“In fact, the adoption of GM technology is forecast to deliver up to $4.8 billion in total gross benefits across NSW primary industries over the next ten years. GM technology could save farmers up to 35 per cent of their overheads and boost production by almost 10 per cent. This will be a key area of growth on our path to a $19 billion industry by 2023.
“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.”
The GM moratorium was enacted to manage the trade and marketing issues related to the emerging branch of agriculture nearly two decades ago, but Mr Marshall said there had been few, if any, implications in more than a decade.
“The NSW Nationals in the state government have been looking closely at this issue for over ten years, ensuring GM food crops are effectively managed around trade and marketing issues,” Mr Marshall said
“There is a robust safety system in place, with all applications to grow GM crops assessed by the Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator.
“As we have seen with GM canola, it has been approved for commercial cultivation in NSW since 2008, and has provided farmers with increased management flexibility in their cropping systems and better yields.
“NSW has a proud history of over 130 years of research experience and partnerships and we believe today’s announcement will open the State to a new world of advances that will drive prosperity in this sector for years to come.”
Genetically modified canola, cotton and safflower have been successfully grown in NSW since 2008 meeting all crop management and marketing requirements.
Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory do not have a moratorium in place, and the moratorium in South Australia now only applies to Kangaroo Island. The Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2003 (the Act) is due to expire on July 1, 2021.