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Your views: on GM, bike lanes and uni mergers

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on the Marshall Government over-ruling 11 SA council’s commercial decisions to reject GM crops in their regions, the long-delayed east-west bikeway, and Labor’s call to merge SA unis.

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Commenting on the story: GM-free snub a “kick in the guts” for wine industry

This government decision is a slap in the face for significant industries and demonstrates the consultation process was a farce.

The local councils represent their regions and sent clear messages from their communities to then be ignored. They deserve the same as Kangaroo Island.

The Minister has failed us. – David Furniss

I note that the modelling submitted with reference specifically to the Southern Vales region stated: In its submission to the council, MGWTA said McLaren Vale risked losing up to $20.1 million annually in crop value and an additional $5.1 million each year in export value should GM crops be grown in the area.

I did not see any evidence presented by the Minister to refute that claim. 

Are we going down the US route where decisions are made without evidence? It would appear so. – John Boland

Democracy and evidence-based decision-making have been sacrificed as the SA’s State Liberal Government panders to the genetic modification Industry in denying councils’ requests for non-GM designation.

On 29 Oct the Minister for Primary Industries wrote to individuals who had  made submissions to him showing that price premia exist in SA for non-GM canola over GM canola. He provided a fatuous example claiming that because the price paid for non-GM canola at Kwinana WA was higher than the price paid at  Pt Lincoln, premia do not exist in SA. He did not compare the price paid for GM and canola and non-GM canola.

The Minister appears to have been misled by the Mecardo and Thomas Elder reports funded by the genetic modification Industry and the report by Prof Kym Anderson (which has been comprehensively rebutted by Dr John Paull of the University of Tasmania).

Minister David Basham’s repeated statement that  “so-called price premiums for being GM-free were a myth” is patently wrong, as SA farmers annually provide specific details about the geographic coordinates of the paddocks in which they are growing non-GM canola to their grain handler as part of the quality assurance required for the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) program payment.

This is on the basis that the EU regards the growing of non-GM as more sustainable than GM canola (on account of the way it is farmed). Eligibility for the premium is managed by Sustainable Grain Australia  and integrated through the National Grower Register.

The world’s major grain handler, Cargill, publishes the prices it pays for GM and certified non-GM canola each day. These prices are published on the basis of delivery to particular silos from which Cargill knows the transport costs to get the canola onto the international market. So the prices will be higher for deliveries made to an export port than silos way out in the country.

Growers of genetically modified canola also miss out on the competitive market prices paid by grain buyers who make non-GM canola oil and canola meal for human consumption, animal feed and sustainable biodiesel. Together these effective premia have been ranging from about $40-90 per tonne at Viterra’s Roseworthy silos in SA for years. Calculating such price differences is extremely simple, by looking at the daily prices for SA&WA (Kwinana WA, Roseworthy SA) and  Vic (Horsham) and comparing  ‘CANG’ (canola GM) and ‘CERTIFIED CAN’ (Non-GM canola).

 The case of Kangaroo Island Council – that was designated as a non-GM crop area some time ago because the canola growers were able to show that they could gain greater income from their crops due to their non-GM status – is described by the Government as ‘unique’.

The fact is that grain from mainland SA has also been handled and premium prices paid by KI Pure Grains, the company exporting Non-GM grain to Japanese whole food markets. There are other grain accumulators in SA that buy non-GM grain, paying ISCC and market premiums and selling to niche markets. – Graham  Brookman

Commenting on the story: After years of delay, city council rushes to confirm east-west bikeway

After years of delays and uneventful council meetings, Adelaide is coming out its 1950s “we need more cars in the city” attitude and we finally have movement on another separated bike lane in the city.

Does anyone ask how the Adelaide City Council deals with the conflict of interest it has with such a large proportion of its income coming from car parking? It is no wonder that Adelaide has less separated bike lanes than any other capital city in Australia. The loss of a few parking spaces should not be a consideration as Adelaide already has more car parks per square meter of office space than virtually any other city in the world.

Imagine taking a radical step to return the city for the use of people rather than cars, like Curibita in Brazil  Or restricting vehicle access to the city as London did 17 years ago. The congestion tax could be collected by the Adelaide city council to offset the parking revenue.

Congratulations to the supportive, forward looking councillors and to the others – are you proud of your decisions? – Roger Coats 

Commenting on the opinion piece: Labor’s university merger plan would shrink South Australia

A fantastically lucid summary on this highly questionable merger policy, Collette.

This announcement is right out of the Conservative playbook and shines a light on the regressive attitudes of both major parties when it comes to properly funding higher education in Australia.

Over successive state and federal governments, the ALP and the Coalition parties have combined to degrade and trash the reputation and performance of TAFE across Australia and now the universities are in their sights.

A shocking and disappointing policy by Peter Malinauskas. Does this idea have any grass roots Labor support at all, or any consultation behind it?

Peter’s inexperience and naïveté is writ large and Susan Close’s educational understanding seems absent, especially for an experienced former minister and current spokesperson.

Is this the New Labor style, announce from left field, then try to convince and defend later? – Alan Turner

The notion that we’d make our universities great by turning them into one made me look to the data, as did the author. Using the Times Higher Education site, it’s evident that the numbers don’t support the ALP theory at all. Quite the opposite: universities of the individual size of ours, 20K-35K students, are well represented in the higher rankings, whilst the large ones are not.

I don’t know what’s got into the heads of the pollies at Federal and now State level interfering with the universities whilst forcing them into dire financial situations. I’ll be voting for an election promise to leave universities alone. Cathy Chua

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