Farmers in northern New South Wales have joined with farmers in other parts of the state in calling for a ban on the use of genetically modified maize in their crop fields.
Farmers in the Hunter Valley in NSW, the state’s heartland, have written to Premier Mike Baird calling for the introduction of a moratorium on the cultivation of the maize, which is used in a wide range of foods including pasta, couscous and sweet potato.
Farm farmers have been agitating for the ban since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year approved the use in corn and soybean varieties.
Farm organisations are urging the government to review the ban and allow the planting of GM maize to be permitted in New South England’s top-producing region.
The Hunter Valley, the most populated area in NSW and home to a large number of farms, has been vocal about its desire to limit the use and spread of GM technology.
Last year, it became the first farm in Australia to adopt a GMO maize, but the Government’s decision to stop all GM crops from entering New South Australia is seen as having a major impact on the area’s agricultural industry.
“The Hunter and Hunter Valley are facing a very serious threat to the survival of our agriculture industry and the food security of our communities,” the letter said.
“A ban on GM maize is the right thing to do.
The introduction of GM food in the NSW Hunter Valley would not only benefit our farmers, but also the many people who are already relying on our local food system.”GMO maize is not only safe for our environment but will also have a huge positive impact on our economy and create jobs.”
Farmers have been protesting in their area since last year, when a GM maize strain was approved for cultivation.
It is hoped that the ban will give farmers a clearer picture of the impact of the technology, which will be introduced gradually.”
We are very pleased that the Government is moving in the right direction to support the industry,” one farmer said.
In December, the Department of Agriculture released a report which concluded that GM maize had a “high potential to be approved”.
Farmers and the Government are also expected to discuss the impact on their local economies, the report said.
The State Government has committed $4 million to support local farmers through a food bank.
The NSW Farmers Association has also been calling for farmers to take action to protect their local economy and agricultural communities.
The new ban will apply to any farm where there is a GM crop that is approved for use in a local area.
It will not apply to crops already grown in the region.
A spokesperson for the NSW Farmers’ Union said it supported the Government “making sure farmers are able to choose their food sources”.”
It’s very important that our farmers and the community have access to the safest and most nutritious food on the market,” he said.
Topics:food-and-beverage,farm-pickers,food-safety,environment,sustainable-foods-and/or-environmental-impact,health,diseases-and‐disorders,agriculture,neighbourhoods-unincorporated-4741,newcastle-2300Contact Andrew Gwynne