Food giant Goodman Fielder has urged all state governments to continue their moratoria on genetically modified food crops, providing support for agriculture minister Kim Chance's decision to continue a moratorium.
In a letter to all state premiers, Goodman Fielder chief executive Peter Margin said consumers preferred GM-free food because of the uncertainty surrounding the long-term effects of GM crops on human health.
He added that Australia's current competitive advantage on international grain markets because of its GM-free status, and uncertainty about the performance of GM crops compared to traditional crops, were further reasons to continue the moratorium.
Mr Chance said he remained unconvinced that consumers in both domestic and international markets would support GM food.
'When you have the largest buyer of canola in Australia, Goodman Fielder, coming out and saying we don't want GM...you've got to listen,' he told WA Business News.
Mr Chance said the government was maintaining its cautious approach to GM food crops, and was skeptical about claims made by GM supporters of increased yields and economic benefits to growers, in the absence of commercial trials in WA.
The minister said he had received only one application to conduct a commercial trial of GM canola, by the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association, in Esperance. But despite the application being granted, the trial has been delayed due to the unwillingness of the GM seed company to relinquish seeds for the independent trial.
While his stance on GM food crops is one of caution, Mr Chance said he believed growing GM cotton in the state's far north could be a viable option.
In August, the minister released a discussion paper into the potential for GM cotton production in the Ord River Irrigation Area, which industry groups say would underwrite the development of Ord Stage Two and bring significant economic and social benefits to the region.
The public submissions period has closed, with the minister expected to put forward his recommendations towards the end of the year.