Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss has warned that Australian cannot afford to ignore genetically modified crops.

Truss also called for state and territory governments to lift any temporary bans on GM crops and allow farmers to begin planting, reported the Australian Associated Press.

Last week Australia’s Gene Technology Regulator approved the commercial growing of Australia’s first GM food crop, InVigor canola.

But while the herbicide-resistant canola has been approved by the federal government, all canola-growing states except Queensland currently have GM food crop bans in place.

Truss said that those who opposed GM crops were holding back Australia’s farmers. He warned that if the country did not allow the planting of GM crops, other major grain exporters would have cost and product advantages.

“Australia cannot afford to bury its head in the sand on this issue,” Truss was quoted by AAP as saying.

“By denying our farmers access to significant potential benefits of GM technology – benefits such as increased yield and oil content – we run the risk of slipping behind as a major grain exporter.”