Organic farmers and the ‘Keep SA GM-free Coalition’ will meet on the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide today to urge the State Government to honour their call for a GM-free Fleurieu Peninsula.
Following the lifting of the Moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crop production on mainland SA earlier this year, councils have been given an opportunity to undergo public consultation on whether to apply with Primary Industries Minister David Basham to retain GM-free status.
Despite an independent review showing there would be very little financial advantage to promoting SA as a ‘clean green GM-free’ crop state, all Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills councils have voted to head in that direction.
Today the GM-free Crops Community Action demonstration will run on the steps of SA state parliament from noon to 1pm.
Present will be farmer and director of Climate and Agricultural Supports, Melissa Rebbeck, fourth generation Victorian farmer Bob Mackley, winemaker and teacher Graham Brookman, certified organic grower Monka Fiebig and the facilitator is Dr Catherine Harvey, an SA farmer and veterinarian.
"We gather at parliament to insist that David Basham, the Minister for Primary Industries, approves all the applications he receives from Councils, for their GM-free Crop Zone status to be restored, as Kangaroo Island's is," Dr Harvey said.
"Regional economies and the whole state can continue to benefit greatly from the competitive advantage and premium prices to be earned from SA's GM-free foods and beverages sold throughout Australia and overseas."
Greens MLC Mark Parnell will also be at today's demonstration. He voted to keep the SA GM Crop Moratorium and sponsored Bills to compensate farmers for GM contamination if the GM crop ban were lifted, which were knocked back in parliament by the major parties.
"Back in May, the Marshall Liberal Government passed new laws giving councils the responsibility to consult with their communities and decide whether they want their council area to be GM-free. The Minister for Primary Industries must now honour the democratic decisions of the councils that have applied in good faith to be GM-free, and approve their applications," Mr Parnell said.
The Adelaide Hills, Mt Barker, Alexandrina, Victor Harbor, Barossa, Onkaparinga, Yankalilla, Playford, Berri Barmera, and Gawler Councils have all applied to be GM-free, on market and trade grounds.
The majority of Murraylands councils have gone the opposite way with Murray Bridge, Mid Murray Council and Coorong District Councils voting to allow farmers to grow GM crops if they wish.
The District Council of Karoonda East Murray has decided it is not in a position to effectively determine a solution due to a mixed bag of responses in the consultation period.
Photo supplied by Keep SA GM-free Coalition