Changes in legislation provided South Australian councils with a one-off, time-limited opportunity to apply to the State Government to exclude genetically modified (GM) food crops from being cultivated in their areas.
Any council making an application needs to have first consulted with its community in accordance with the legislation. Any application needs to be based on ‘marketing and trade’ impacts that would result if GM food crops are allowed.
At a Special Meeting held on 8 September 2020, Light Regional Council considered feedback from its community, including responses to a survey and written submissions.
Some of these submissions, such as that from the Barossa Grape and Wine Association (BGWA), indicated that allowing GM food crops could have a negative impact on the reputation and leading brand position of the Barossa and the state wine industry.
The BGWA recommended that the Barossa Geographical Indication Zone be designated as an area in which no GM food crops may be cultivated.
Other submissions, such as one from Grain Producers SA, argued that there is no sound trade and marketing basis on which to apply and that growers should be provided a choice to grow crops that best fit their farming systems.
The LRC area features grain as well as grape and wine producers and both are important contributors to the State economy.
The legislation only allows a council to apply to have its whole area designated as an area in which no GM food crops may be cultivated.There is presently no avenue for a council to apply to have only a part of its area remain ‘GM free’.
While Council decided not to make an application, it also decided to request that the Minister and State Government urgently works with industry and the affected councils to address wine industry concerns with respect to the potential impacts of introducing GM food crops.