Farmers win fight to repeal GM law

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Supporters of the technology have been lobbying the Government to make repeal of the laws a priority.
Camera IconSupporters of the technology have been lobbying the Government to make repeal of the laws a priority. Credit: The West Australian

The State Government will honour a commitment to leading farming groups by moving to repeal laws covering the growing of genetically modified crops in WA within months.

Supporters of the technology have been lobbying the Government to make repeal of the laws a priority despite opposition from organic farmers and green groups.

The GM Crops Free Areas Act is likely to be lumped in with a swag of other legislation when Parliament devotes a couple of days to the repeal of laws in late October or early November.

The Liberal Party move would head off Labor’s plans to halt the growing of GM canola if it wins the next election. It is understood the repeal timetable was one of the main talking points when the Liberal Party’s influential rural policy committee met advisers to Premier Colin Barnett last week.

Farming groups and GM backers were concerned the process had stalled despite Agriculture Minister Ken Baston’s strong views on the issue.

WAFarmers, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association and the Grains Industry Association of WA support the repeal.

A Government-funded report produced by GIAWA has identified GM crops as one of the keys to doubling the value of the local grains industry to $10 billion a year over the next decade.

The Act gives WA the power to veto local farmers growing GM crops approved by Commonwealth authorities.

WA farmers have been growing GM canola since 2010 under an exemption first granted by then-agriculture minister Terry Redman.

It is longstanding Labor policy to cancel the exemption.

Supporters and opponents of GM crops are sweating on a WA Court of Appeal ruling in a landmark damages case involving organic grower Steve Marsh and his neighbour Mike Baxter.

A spokeswoman for Mr Baston said the Government was working through the steps needed to repeal the Act.

The required legislation, which needs to pass through both houses of Parliament, will have the support of the Nationals WA.

“ The Nationals WA support the repeal ... and encourage the Minister for Agriculture to bring the legislation to the Parliament for debate,” deputy leader Mia Davies said.

“There has been significant uptake of the GM variety of canola and we are supportive of the sector having the option of accessing this technology.”

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