Critics challenge South Australian Agriculture Minister’s anti-GMO stance

Critics have challenged South Australian Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell to “put up or shut up” on the science and safety of crop biotechnology, while a new global report extolls the economic and environmental virtues of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Mr Bignell sparked controversy when he spoke out against GM crops immediately after his ministerial appointment in March. He promised to travel the State and listen to what farmers wanted – but then publicly questioned the safety of GM crops in SA where there’s a long-running moratorium on commercial production.

SA Liberal Senator Sean Edwards said Mr Bignell had “an inflated level of his own importance” given food safety regulations were a federal responsibility, through Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). “If he has any credible scientific evidence he should put it forward, rather than run this ridiculous smear campaign against companies that operate legitimately and within the law,” he said. “Clearly he’s acting in isolation here and has not been around the State or listened to what farmers really want.”

An international report released by PG Economics earlier this month stated widespread adoption of crop biotechnology had led to “significant economic and environmental benefits, and unparalleled improvement in farmer income”. CropLife Australia – representative of the plant science industry in Australia – said biotech had an important place in Australia agriculture. “Australian GM cotton and canola farmers have realised farm income benefits of more than US $766 million over the 17 year period covered by the report,” said CropLife chief executive officer Matthew Cossey.

Read the full, original article: Bignell stirs the GM pot

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