Minister shows contempt for SA Parliament over GM

SA Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone MP’s attempt to lift the GM crops moratorium in SA for a third time in as many weeks, after being defeated twice in the Legislative Council, not only shows his contempt for the Parliament, but his lack of leadership on the issue, says Greens MLC Mark Parnell.

“Having been twice defeated in the Legislative Council, the Minister has instead decided to unilaterally introduce Regulations that he must know are likely to be disallowed again next year” said Mark Parnell.

“Lifting the moratorium from 1 January while Parliament isn’t sitting, is a sneaky move from a desperate Minister. Minister Whetstone knows that the Parliament can again disallow the Regulations when we return in February. All the Minister is doing is creating uncertainty for farmers who will be faced with a situation where for a few weeks it will be legal to grow GM crops, after which it may be banned again.

“It would be very unwise for anyone to assume that Parliament will simply ignore serious concerns raised by MPs about the potential for GM contamination and economic loss for farmers who choose not to grow GM canola. After all, that is precisely why some MPs voted down the Government’s last attempt to lift the moratorium.

“Rather than negotiate, the Minister is like a bull in a china shop. If Minister Whetstone thinks that showing contempt for Parliament is the best way to influence the outcome, he is likely to come a cropper for the third time when Parliament resumes in February.

“Given the inevitable contamination that will result from allowing GM crops, it is only reasonable that the Parliament be given the chance to address the question of liability for loss or damage. Having farmers suing each other when organic or non-GM crops become contaminated by nearby GM crops is an awful prospect.

“The Greens want to ensure that South Australia’s non-GM farmers are protected. If they suffer economic loss as a result of GM contamination, they deserve to be compensated for that loss by the owners of the GM seeds that have caused the contamination – the agrochemical companies.

“The Government cannot claim to be doing this in the interest of farmers, when they’re not acting to protect the interest of the majority of South Australian farmers – those whose livelihoods are at stake if the handful of farmers who want to grow GM canola are allowed to do so.

"The Greens will move to disallow these new Regulations as the first item of business when Parliament resumes. We believe that the moratorium should remain in place to allow South Australia to develop and capitalise on its clean, green and natural food reputation.” concluded Mark Parnell MLC.