The Honourable Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC, Government Whip in the Legislative Council and Parliamentary Secretary for Health has welcomed the NSW Government’s future focus on agriculture that will see the end of an 18-year moratorium on the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops, reaping significant benefits to NSW primary industries over the next decade.

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

“By making this decision, the Government has paved the way for the State’s primary industries sector to embrace new GM technologies in the field leading to increased yield and crop value, drought and disease resistance and potential cost savings in better weed control and more efficient uptake of soil nutrients. 

“The NSW Government has been looking closely at this issue for over ten years, ensuring GM food crops are effectively managed around trade and marketing issues.

“We have built NSW agriculture on 130 years of research and partnerships and we have an opportunity now to open the door to a new world of potential advances that will drive prosperity in this sector for decades to come.”

Mrs Maclaren-Jones said the adoption of GM technology could provide billions of dollars in total gross benefits across NSW primary industries over the next ten years.

“NSW is proud of our abundance of world-class food and fibre, our stringent biosecurity and food safety standards and our position as a world leader in agriculture,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“As we look to the future, we can see the enormous value in encouraging further research into GM crops.

“This will have no impact on the assessment, monitoring and enforcement processes conducted by the Commonwealth Gene Technology Regulator that together ensure GM crops do not pose a risk to the safety and health of people and the environment.

“This is also great news for consumers with GM foods having the potential for grain quality modification and even an increased nutritional value for some of our favourite foods.

“The NSW Government is investing in R&D and biotechnology at a time when primary industries face significant challenges including drought and volatile markets, and it is important for NSW primary producers to have access to the best and most recent innovations, including GM technology.”

GM canola has been approved for commercial cultivation in NSW since 2008.

The GM moratorium was enacted to manage the trade and marketing issues related to the emerging branch of agriculture nearly two decades ago.

Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory do not have a moratorium in place, and the moratorium in South Australia now only applies to Kangaroo Island.

The Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2003 (the Act) is due to expire on 1 July 2021.