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The South Australian government recently announced its intention to lift the long-standing statewide moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops, following a statutory six-week consultation period.
A government-commissioned independent review had estimated the cost of the moratorium at A$33 million since 2004 for canola alone. The review concluded there was no clear market incentive to uphold the ban, except on Kangaroo Island.
Contrast - Government - GM - Moratorium - Years
In contrast, the Tasmanian government announced that its GM moratorium would be extended for 10 years. It cited the state's GM-free status as an important part of the "Tasmanian brand," representing a market advantage, particularly for food exports.
Research and commercial growing of GM crops in Australia is regulated under a national scheme, but governed by individual states. These recent and mooted changes leave Tasmania as the only state with a blanket ban on GM organisms.
Science - Modification - Report - Group - Academy
The science underlying genetic modification is complex and evolving. A recent report by an expert working group convened by the Australian Academy of Science (to which I contributed) documented the broad consensus among many professional organizations, including the World Health Organization, that GM foods and medicines are safe. No ill-effects have been identified relating to human consumption, and GM foods produced so far are no different to unmodified foods in terms of safety and digestibility.
However, the report also highlights that this scientific evidence does not provide answers to all concerns raised by GM technologies. The public's understanding of this issue is shaped by a complex range of factors and values.
People - Opinions - GM - Foods - Crops
Many people's opinions about GM foods and crops are related to their views on what constitutes acceptable risk. There is no one right way to measure risks, and various scientific disciplines have different ways of weighing them up. For example, does the lack of evidence of harm mean we can conclude GM food is safe to eat? Or...
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