Premier Colin Barnett and Minister for Agriculture and Food Ken Baston are being lobbied by WA growers to repeal State legislation that could be used to cut-off their future access to GM crop technologies.
A petition and letter addressed to Mr Barnett, but yet to be sent to him, has called for a repeal of the GM Crops Free Areas Act 2003 to limit Labor's ability to deny the technology.
Mr Baston is meeting with a Williams grower this week to discuss the concerns of local growers.
It's understood the petition bound for Mr Barnett has been circulated in recent weeks mostly via email and has gained more than 300 signatures from growers backing GM crops continuing without political interference.
"We, the GM canola growers of Western Australia are thankful to the Barnett government for allowing us to grow GM canola in 2010 under an exemption from the GM Crops Free Areas Act of 2003," it says.
"We now request more certainty to ensure that we can continue to grow this valuable crop into the future."
With WA's next election inching closer, growers are becoming increasingly anxious that a potential change of government at the March 2017 poll could see Labor use the act to prohibit access to genetically modified crops.
GM canola was first allowed in WA when a change of government in 2008 saw then agriculture minister Terry Redman write an exemption for large scale trials followed by formal full-scale commercial release in 2010.
GM canola has also been declared safe and approved by federal regulators in Australia but continues to suffer opposition with political backing from the Greens and Labor, citing food safety or marketing concerns.
The South Australian government has supported an on-going ban on GM crops being grown in that State, despite the technology's support from the party's federal division.
The letter to Mr Barnett said it was well known that if Labor won the next State election, then its GM-free policy would make growing GM canola illegal the following year.
"The exemption that Terry Redman granted us on behalf of the Liberal/National alliance will be gone at the stroke of a pen," it said.
The letter also said GM canola had been grown on 1.1 million hectares of WA farm land.
"We are able to grow both GM and non-GM canola side by side and market them separately within the supply chain," the letter said.
"GM canola out-performs non-GM canola with better yield and higher oil content, superior weed control, stronger dry sowing opportunities and powerful rotational benefits.
"Farmers are rapidly adopting GM canola as it now constitutes 30 per cent of our State's canola crop.
"Furthermore, GM technology offers the agricultural industry an opportunity to seek out traits that mitigate the disastrous consequences of droughts and frosts.
"Companies investing in agriculture R&D will only do so when there is certainty of no political interference.
"A way for your government to ensure this vital technology is not prohibited for Western Australian farmers is to repeal the GM Crops Free Areas Act of 2003.
"We believe this action will send the strongest message that Western Australian agriculture is open for business.
"Please expedite the repeal of this act as soon as possible."
Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston told Fairfax Agricultural Media he was committed to repealing the GM Crops Free Areas Act before the next election.
He said there were several steps required to repeal an act "and we are currently working through this process".
"Once a crop is deemed safe by the federal regulator, I firmly believe growers should have the choice to plant those crops that most suit their production system," he said.
Mr Baston has previously described the act as a piece of legislation purely designed for prohibition.
About 12 months ago, he also indicated State cabinet had flagged considerations for a review of the act which could be repealed in light of party policy to cut excess red tape.
Introduced in 2003, the act gives powers to the agriculture minister to designate areas of the State where GM crops can't be cultivated, or specific GM crops.
It also provides powers to destroy GM crops and imposes a $200,000 penalty for recklessly or knowingly growing GM crops in restricted areas.
Ahead of the 2008 WA election, the former WA Labor government had enforced the act to help maintain a power-sharing arrangement with the Greens in the Upper House which frustrated many grains industry members.
In addition to the wider petition to Mr Barnett, a group of Williams growers have banded together to urge Mr Baston forward on the matter.
Williams grower Lewis Johnstone met Mr Baston yesterday to present a local petition to the minister.
Mr Johnstone said the common misconception that the Williams shire had an anti-GM policy in place needed to be addressed, with many growers in the district actively supporting and growing GM crops.
"Our group, predominantly farmers, supportive of GMO technology, was formed in Williams in November 2014," Mr Johnstone said.
"The group originated as a result of concerns that our community was being misrepresented as being negative and against biotechnology.
"A group of more than 45 farmers gathered for our inaugural meeting on December 2 to view a presentation and begin networking together in support of biotechnology."
Mr Johnstone said his goal was to encourage Mr Baston to push through his plans to repeal the GM Crop Free Act before the next election and present supporting statements from his group.
He said it was also important for him to express concern regarding misrepresentation of the district through the media and the associated negative comments about GM crops, specifically canola.
"We are strongly in favour of the repeal of this act and are encouraged by reports that the WA Liberal Party shares this view," Mr Johnstone said.
"Our group is highly concerned that if this repeal doesn't take place as soon as possible it exposes us to the risk of losing one of our most important resources in the event of a change in government in WA."
Mr Johnstone said a cropping system which includes GM canola was the most profitable approach to farming for many in his area when otherwise faced with weed burdens on non-GM crops and a return to livestock.