South Australia backs away from GMOs

August 15, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Australian Broadcasting Co. South Australia has come close to slamming the door on GM crops, following the findings of a parliamentary committee.

The committee has recommended that legislation be introduced delaying the commercial release of GM crops until it can be guaranteed that the state will not lose markets.

Select Committee chairman Rory McEwan says the legislation will remain in place until a parliamentary advisory committee is convinced GM and conventional crops can co-exist.

And he admits the bar has been set very high:

"As long as you can guarantee coexistence," he said, "and some very strict rules surround that, then it is possible to go through a process, and at least have a conditional release. Because trade and market issues depend on consumer sentiment, which is always changing, we must always have the options there. Now, the only way to have the options is to guarantee coexistence. Now some people say that's not possible. We're not making that judgment, but we're actually saying you have to prove that's possible before you can have a release."

Meanwhile, a Western Australian plant breeding specialist says his State Government's moratorium on genetically modified crops will force researchers to head overseas to complete their work.

Dr. Ian Edwards is the Chief Executive of Grain Biotech Australia, a private company that breeds crops resistent to a range of pests and diseases.

Doctor Edwards says the company is ready to field test its barley yellow dwarf virus resistence technology, which he says could be a major breakthrough for wheat growers.

But with a moratorium in place at least until 2006, he says the trials may have to take place overseas.