GM crops debate splits farmers, consumers

A majority of respondents to a Murray Bridge council survey say they want a GM ban to continue, but the council has sided with local farmers.

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Farmers and consumers are divided on whether Murray Bridge should remain free of GM crops, but the farmers will get their way.

A council survey has found most people want to continue a ban on genetically modified crops which has been in place in South Australia since 2004.

But on Monday night, the council sided with the Monarto Agricultural Bureau, Murraylands Food Alliance and others who were in favour of removing the GM ban.

“As farmers, we feel the future benefits of GM technology are endless, including but not limited to higher yields, reduced reliance on chemicals and better disease resistance,” ag bureau president Nathan Wegener told the council in his submission.

“It is our hope that council will look beyond the emotion of the topic and make their decision based upon the science, and in line with the wishes of the majority of the state’s farmers.”

The Murraylands Food Alliance – a group of nine businesses responsible for employing 3300 people and producing $1.1 billion worth of food each year – agreed.

The GM ban did not help growers earn a higher price for their produce, chair Renee Pye said.

Removing it would reduce chemical use, control weeds and improve yields.

Supporters of the ban argued that GM crops would expose people to health risks and damage South Australia’s reputation; and that non-GM crops, including organic crops, were higher in quality and more environmentally sustainable.

In total, 49 people or organisations responded to the survey, including a number of lobby groups from outside the district.

Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash.