New South Wales, Australia poised to lift GM crop cultivation ban in July, sparking debate between farmers and environmentalists

Credit: Greg Scullin/Miles Research
Credit: Greg Scullin/Miles Research

[New South Wales Agriculture Minister Adam] Marshall said [lifting the state’s GM crop ban on July 1 will open] the door for the state’s primary industries sector to embrace new GM technologies in the field, “potentially reaping billions of dollars in benefits”.

“The potential agronomic and health benefits of future GM crops include everything from drought and disease resistance, to more efficient uptake of soil nutrients, increased yield and better weed control,” Mr Marshall said.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson said the group was “broadly supportive” about lifting the ban, but wanted to see the risk-benefit ratio balanced. He said it would offer farmers greater crop choice.

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“There is obviously some risks with introducing new genetic material into various plants,” he said. “For farmers, it’s all about the right to choose. There are farmers who would incorporate GMO’s into their farming systems and there are farmers who would choose not to.”

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Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps said the claim GM crops had the ability to increase food production by 9 per cent still needed to be proven. “They are all fancy claims which the GM industry has been making now for the last 30 years and has never delivered on,” he said.

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