THE Tasmanian Farmers and Growers Association responded this week to the State government’s continuation of the moratorium on the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in Tasmania.
“We welcome the clarity that this is a moratorium rather than ban,” TFGA chief executive Jan Davis said.
“The recognition of the need for continuous reassessment of the situation, rather than shutting the door on the subject for the next five years, is vital if we are to make the most of our competitive advantages.
“The inclusion of trigger points to enable regular monitoring and review of developments, both externally and domestically, is therefore important.”
South Australia remains the only mainland State with an ongoing ban on genetically-modified (GM) crops, which is expected to remain in place until at least 2019.
Western Australia adopted the use of GMOs in 2009, a decision which cropping industries in other states have watched closely in the wake of litigation between neighbouring WA farmers - one organic, and one who makes use of GMO.
The Marsh v Baxter case was won by the farmer growing GM crops, Michael Baxter, but is now under appeal.
Ms Davis said the TFGA had told last year’s Tasmanian GMO review that opinion was divided within the farming sector over the use of GM crops and the claimed benefits.
“Research commissioned by the previous government confirmed the fact that remaining GM-free comes at a cost to Tasmanian farmers,” she said.
“The government must recognise this impact on farmers’ overall returns. We need to be open to re-assessment of the situation as new technologies and products are developed, and as markets change.
“There is no doubt that we are losing productivity and competitiveness because we can’t access GMO technologies that arguably could enhance current production outcomes and methodologies.
“Without a promotions campaign in the marketplace to support the moratorium decision, which now goes back 10 years, we’re getting the worst of both worlds. That campaign has never happened; and we’ll be looking forward to discussing possible ways forward with the government,” Ms Davis said.