South Australian Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell’s staunch opposition to genetically modified (GM) crop biotechnology has raised fears multi-million dollar research trials could be banished to another State.
South Australian Liberal Senator Sean Edwards voiced concerns about SA’s potential loss of GM research at Senate Estimates hearings last week in Canberra. Addressing senior Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) officials, Senator Edwards read out recent inflammatory statements from Mr Bignell about the safety of GM crops. “I don’t want to be… like the politicians in the 70s, who listened to James Hardie who said there are no dangers with asbestos,” the Minister was quoted as saying.
Senator Edwards said given both the opposition and the government’s acceptance of GM research, Mr Bignell was “way out of step with his federal counterparts”. He also asked the GRDC’s thoughts on the future of GM research trials at the internationally regarded Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics in Adelaide (ACPFG) due to be signed off by the SA Minister within weeks.
He said while the ACPFG was considering GM trials at Glenthorne Farm, at O’Halloran Hill in July, the Centre was “very fearful” the trials won’t be approved by Mr Bignell, despite being approved “at every level of all the federal agencies”.
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