Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (17:26): I acknowledge all the other speakers on this bill, the Genetically Modified Crops Management (Designated Area) Amendment Bill 2020. As has already been indicated by other members, this Marshall Liberal government, which I am proud to be a part of, is committed to lifting the GM moratorium in South Australia and giving our farmers the same choice to grow genetically modified crops as other mainland states.
This has been a long and winding road since legislation way back in 2004, I believe, and moratoriums and, I will say from my perspective as a farmer, a lot of misinformation around genetically modified crops and genetically modified foods. Certainly, with respect to the food area, I hope everyone who sips on their soy lattes enjoys them, because that is genetically modified. It is absolutely genetically modified, and there would be hundreds of items on supermarket shelves that people unknowingly buy every day that are genetically modified foods.
I always think that it would have been better if from the start genetic modification was called accelerated breeding, because that is essentially what it is. It is accelerated breeding to take out all those lifetime crop cycles that people have to go through to get crossbreeding in. It is interesting when you go back and look at some of the historical breeds that go back to Egyptian days. I know some of the breeds in the grain part of the museum at Pinnaroo go right back to those times. Everyone was looking for yield improvement over hundreds and thousands of years, so that we could feed populations.
Essentially, what happens with genetic modification is the work is done to fast-track that process, so that we can get better results, not just for our farmers but for the population, so that we can feed an ever-growing population in the world. In some countries, years ago it would have been fine to grow, say, a three or four-bag crop per acre, and I am not going to do the hectare to tonne adjustment right now because it is too hard. Nowadays, depending on where you are, if you are not growing 12, 15 or 20 bags and you start talking about two or 2½ tonnes per hectare, or three, four or five tonnes—I am probably not getting close, but I might be getting into the realm of the member for Flinders' farm, which is in the beautiful grain growing area at Edillilie near Cummins—we have always had to try to find better production.
It has happened over time. My father saw it in the 67 crops he put in from the time he was 13 years old until the time he was 80—using technology instead of the plough and cultivators, and going over a paddock 15 times and potentially creating issues with drift. We have moved to a world of no till and direct drill, yet we get what I will call misguided evangelists who want to knock out the use of Roundup or glyphosate (which is the chemical name, and Roundup is the Monsanto brand name) because they think that it has a direct link to cancer.
I know there are people, and I have heard them at events, who go out of their way not to take a broad approach to whether there is a link to cancer. They have said that they want to prove that there is a link between the use of Roundup and cancer, and I think that is fraught. If that is their aim, it is absolutely fraught. We need to take a more rounded view of what is going on. Roundup is probably one of the safest chemicals in the world, especially when compared with things like Spray.Seed and a whole range of other chemicals.
Yes, you have to be mindful of it, but Roundup, as has been mentioned here in this place—I have mentioned it and the member for Flinders has mentioned it—is probably the best invention in the world for agriculture since the traction engine. If used appropriately, I certainly believe it is a great boon for agriculture. It cuts down on the environmental impacts in terms of paddocks blowing in the breeze, and it gets a far better outcome for not just the farmers but for the community as well.
In regard to genetic modification, we have seen it for decades in Bt cotton (genetically modified cotton), where they take out eight to 10 insect sprays that are not necessary anymore. I can tell you, if you are worried about chemicals hurting you, if you think you are going to die from something, that it will be insecticides that may help you on your way if they are not handled appropriately.
For barley grub, we used to mark for DDT spraying with the planes before they had GPS markers, and occasionally you would feel a couple of drops. Perhaps that is why I am the way I am now, but I am still alive. I can tell you that insecticides are very effective in killing other live organisms, but managed appropriately they are fine. I would think that it is a great thing to take all those chemical sprays out of growing cotton. Genetic modification brought about insulin for use in diabetes. There are many people not only in this state and in this country but across the world who benefit from using insulin.
In regard to this bill, we have reached agreement with the opposition. I will not do this every day, but I will commend the member for Giles, Eddie Hughes, for the work—
Mr Hughes: That's okay; I can do it every day.
Mr PEDERICK: No, it's not going to happen every day, mate. Eddie and I get on alright. It is great that we have come to an agreement. We have had to take a few hits on this and not get to exactly where we want to be, but we want to get an outcome for the farmers of South Australia and get away from this crazy ideological debate—and I will say that it is crazy—that GM canola is going to be harmful.
The stupidity, the absolute stupidity, that loads of canola seed cannot move across from the Eastern States through South Australia into Western Australia is just absolutely nuts. That will be fixed with this legislation so long as councils come to the minister with the appropriate business plan and other matters with their submission if they do not want to have genetically modified canola grown in their area.
That will be an interesting time. I am sure this bill will go through and become an act. It will be an interesting time for communities because councils will have to balance what they think is right for their community. I can tell you that even in communities like Kangaroo Island, where the moratorium will stay in place, and where I understand there will not be a review now or a lifting of this moratorium in 2025, there are people who want to grow genetically modified canola. It is a fact. We are the party of choice, so we have taken a few hits. I commend minister Whetstone for his work on this, and we are committed to getting an outcome for the farmers this state.
I note that Grain Producers SA have come out in support. It is validated support, but they recognise that we must do a deal with the opposition to provide legislative certainty to legalise the commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops. Their statement is correct. The statement comes direct from Grain Producers SA. Both the Greens and SA-Best refuse to consider commonsense reform to South Australia's genetically modified moratorium, clinging instead to a discredited anti-GM ideology or compensation regimes that have been found to be unnecessary. It is just crazy, crazy stuff.
We have to deal with the reality of feeding a burgeoning world market. As has been stated, there has been a lot of misinformation around, with the excitement of people stockpiling food and toilet paper during COVID-19. The toilet paper thing I am still coming to terms with. I want someone to write a paper on it later on—and it will not be me. We grow enough food for 75 million people, which is three times our population. I had a conversation with a friend of mine, and I said, 'We grow enough food to feed three times our population.' And they just said down the phone, 'No, we don't. No, it doesn't happen.' I said, 'Well, I'm about to send you a picture,' and I sent the full-page advertisement that the National Farmers' Federation put in The Advertiser recently, which states that, and it is fact: we grow enough food in this country to feed 75 million people.
The simple thing is that there are a few nutters out there—more than a few nutters—who get on the net and tell people they are going to have to stockpile food and this and that, so supermarkets are trying to stock food and toilet paper to look after 50 million people, twice our population. It is just crazy, crazy stuff. Some of these people are wheeling out supermarket trolleys full of meat and do not even have a freezer at home. It is just crazy, crazy stuff.
As I said, perhaps John Weste in the library can do a full report on the toilet paper deal one day because I really struggle. It is good to see it back on the shelves, even in the roadhouses. I did note Drakes got a bit of publicity in The Advertiser when you could buy eight industrial roles of toilet paper, 2.4 kilometres, for $50—and I saw it on the shelves in Murray Bridge—and people were purchasing it. They will not run out until about 2050.
Other claims have been made, and I know that we want to get on with the debate. I think it was around a decade ago in Western Australia that there was the Marsh v Baxter case about GM canola transfer. Michael Baxter was growing genetically modified canola and supposedly it blew onto his neighbour's farm, Mr Marsh's farm, between Katanning and Kojonup. I know this country very well. I have had friends there since the mid-eighties: the McFall family and Nick Chenoweth.
I went to Kojonup, where this was all supposed to have happened. What happened in this case was that this canola was windrowed. I know a little bit about windrowing canola. We used to do it not just for ourselves but as contractors in the local area of Coomandook. The reason you windrow is so it does not shatter. This was canola in windrows. Evidently, the aggrieved organic farmer thought that he had canola seed growing on his property, but it is interesting that these canola plants, which were windrowed plants—you could see that from the straight cut—had gone at least 1.2 kilometres without shattering a pod. Therein lies the question. It just does not happen, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you know.
This was a case that was thrown out of three courts. It went all the way. It had heaps of funding poured in by green activist groups—hundreds of thousands of dollars—to fight this case and sadly it blew a community apart. I believe it blew at least one marriage apart. I believe it is a disgraceful, fraudulent act. It just goes to show that people pushing an ideology will push it far too hard.
I instigated the select committee into Viterra's operations here and in Canada. We went to Western Australia and I remember being in the then minister's office and I raised the question about what had happened down at Kojonup and Katanning way and good credit to the minister for not saying this, but one of his lead advisers said, 'In relation to that case, all is not as it seems.' People in the real world had a fair idea of what happened there.
Let's be realistic: if people are going to mount an argument, mount a real argument, stick to the facts and do not make it up, whether it is about canola or whatever it is. I can tell you, canola does not miraculously fly 1.2 kilometres. With ripe canola in the swath, it would shatter all over the place and in the end, even with how it was placed on the guy's so-called organic farm accredited by NASA, I believe they only had eight plants that came through.
Giving that little bit of background reflects on some of the things that the ideologues will do to try to prove a point and use what I believe is certainly fraudulent activity to get to that point. I think today we have come to a place where we have a level of agreement and I applaud the parliament for that. I say to some members who wanted it one way or the highway that sometimes it does not work like that. Sometimes you have to give a bit to get a lot. Whether you say it is give a bit to get a bit, what we are going to give is people the choice to grow it.
I want councils to look at this really seriously and consult with their local members of parliament, whether they be Labor, Liberal or Independent, to make sure that they get the right idea of where we are going here, because we need to move into the future so that we can move not just with GM canola but with drought tolerance and salinity tolerance, to help our producers long into the future grow food for this state and this country. With those few words, I commend the bill.