NSW genetically modified crop ban lifted
July 1 marked the expiry of the NSW genetically modified (GM) crop moratorium, which means that every mainland Australian state can now access all approved GM crops. This brings Australia’s farmers into line with their major international agricultural competitors.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced the lapse of the 18-year moratorium, stressing that there is a robust safety system in place, with all applications to grow GM crops assessed by the Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator.
“By lifting the ban, we hope to unlock the potential of GM crops for our state’s growers, delivering better yields with less inputs such as pesticides, and growing more nutritious produce,” the minister says. “GM technology could save farmers up to 35 percent on their overheads and boost production by almost 10 percent.
According to CropLife Australia, the peak national industry organisation representing the agricultural chemical and biotechnology sector, the lift on the GM ban is a productivity and environmental sustainability leap forward for Australian farming.
“Farmers should be the ones to make their own choices about what crops to grow that best fit their farming environment and business model,” says CropLife CEO Matthew Cossey. “Having access to GM crops is only going to become more important as farmers continue to face periods of drought and increasingly harsher conditions in a changing climate.”
Cossey says the importance of food security highlighted by the pandemic is a prime example of the continuous need for exploration and development of agricultural innovations via both conventional systems and modern approaches, such as genetic modification.
“The global pandemic caused the single greatest disruption to global food supply in generations,” he continues. “Throughout, the Australian agriculture sector has delivered continuity in supply of safe and nutritious food to domestic and global markets.”
Cossey believes that safe and effective biotechnology and crop protection innovations will play an increasing role in meeting and mitigating food production and supply challenges.
“With all mainland Australian state moratoria removed, we will see stronger research and innovation which will facilitate access to current and future biotechnology crops,” he says.”
Genetically modified cotton and canola have been successfully grown in NSW since 1996 and 2008 respectively. Queensland and the Northern Territory have never had GM moratoria in place. The moratoria in Victoria, Western Australia and mainland South Australia have either expired or been removed. A moratorium is still in place for Kangaroo Island (SA), Tasmania and the ACT.