Draft report on regulation of Australian agriculture welcomed

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AusBiotech has welcomed the Productivity Commission's draft findings on regulation in Australian agriculture, released in a Report as part of the nine-month public inquiry into the regulatory burden on farm businesses.

Dr Anna Lavelle, CEO of AusBiotech said: “The evidence is in. Vast areas of the globe are now planted with GM Crops, with no credible concerns.

“The Productivity Commission Draft Report recommends measures that will increase productivity, international trade; economic development, while supporting farmers’ choice.

“The pro-innovation thrust of this Draft Report is an attitude that AusBiotech supports.”

AusBiotech via its Ag & Foodtech Advisory group made a submission to the inquiry in February 2016, in which it said: “Inconsistencies within, and uncertainty of agricultural regulation is the single most influential factor impacting the decision of major agricultural research providers to invest in Australia. This uncertainty is being exasperated with the development and introduction of new breeding technologies at a time when policy and regulation has not kept pace with these developments.”

Agricultural biotechnology offers a set of innovative tools for Australia’s crop and livestock industries that will create new and improved food and fibre products and more efficient and resilient farming systems and supply chains. The benefits and value from the adoption of agricultural biotechnology will underpin future food security by delivering far-reaching agronomic, environmental, nutritional, human health and economic benefits to Australian agriculture and consumers. Such benefits will strengthen Australia’s competitive position in global food and fibre markets and provide increased surety of supply for domestic consumers.

However, to achieve these benefits there needs to be recognition that Australia is a small player in the global agriculture biotechnology sector. While in the short term there is the risk that regulation will slow the market uptake of new technologies, many Australian farmers will reap long-term rewards in the ability to trade with their counterparts in more ‘technology-friendly’ regions. Whist not all farmers will want access to these technologies those that see a commercial benefit should be afforded the choice, and enable to compete with their global competitors.

The inquiry has focused on regulations that have a material impact on the competitiveness and productivity of Australian agriculture, with the aim of:

  • Defining priority areas for removing or reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on farm businesses, where doing so would raise the productivity of farm businesses and wider economy; and
  • Identifying unnecessary restrictions on competition.

New breeding technologies have demonstrated that when adopted by plant breeders they have the potential to facilitate greater efficiency, effectiveness and economies of scale associated with producing high performance plant varieties that will be required to address the increasing demand to feed the world.

Submissions in regard to the Draft Report are due by Thursday 18 August 2016. The Draft Report can be found at the Productivity Commission website.