Genetically Modified (GM) crops

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The moratorium on growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops in South Australia was lifted by the state government on 15 May, except for Kangaroo Island.

For a short time, local councils can make a request to the Minister for Primary Industries & Regional Development to designate our council area as a non-GM crop area - this would mean no GM crops could be grown in the area. The state government has told us this is a once-off opportunity.

When making his decision, the Minister will only consider evidence related to the trade and marketing impact of GM crops.

This includes whether or not local food producers and manufacturers can demonstrate that their capacity to market and export their product would be affected by our area’s GM status.

The state government has advised that any councils who prepare a request to the Minister must complete community engagement which is directed at people engaged in primary production activities and food processing or manufacturing activities.

Your input

From June to September we asked our communities to tell us their thoughts and experience regarding the trade and marketing impact of GM crops. We conducted an online survey and invited submissions through an initial consultation held from 22 June to 26 July, and welcomed subsequent submission or reports with additional evidence for consideration.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback. The submissions received during the initial consultation period can be viewed here, and you can also see the additional submissions we received. Survey responses and written submissions have been collated and summarised and were presented to elected members in a workshop on 25 August.

At the workshop elected members heard presentations from Grain Producers SA, The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) and McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association (MVGWTA). Where permission was provided by the presenters, their presentations are available here: NASAA, MVGWTA.

The survey data and submissions were presented in a report on 15 September to help Council decide on whether or not to make a request to the Minister for our region to be a non-GM crop area. At this meeting, Council decided to apply to the Minister for our region to be a non-GM crop area.

Our application to the Minister was submitted on 28 September with an addendum sent on 14 October (copies are provided on this page). On 20 October we received a letter from the Minister acknowledging receipt of our submission. The Minister will make a determination that will be Gazetted (made law) by 15 November 2020. Once a decision has been made we will provide an update on this page, and will write to everyone that provided feedback and provided their contact details on the outcome.

Thank you to everyone that participated in this process.

The moratorium on growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops in South Australia was lifted by the state government on 15 May, except for Kangaroo Island.

For a short time, local councils can make a request to the Minister for Primary Industries & Regional Development to designate our council area as a non-GM crop area - this would mean no GM crops could be grown in the area. The state government has told us this is a once-off opportunity.

When making his decision, the Minister will only consider evidence related to the trade and marketing impact of GM crops.

This includes whether or not local food producers and manufacturers can demonstrate that their capacity to market and export their product would be affected by our area’s GM status.

The state government has advised that any councils who prepare a request to the Minister must complete community engagement which is directed at people engaged in primary production activities and food processing or manufacturing activities.

Your input

From June to September we asked our communities to tell us their thoughts and experience regarding the trade and marketing impact of GM crops. We conducted an online survey and invited submissions through an initial consultation held from 22 June to 26 July, and welcomed subsequent submission or reports with additional evidence for consideration.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback. The submissions received during the initial consultation period can be viewed here, and you can also see the additional submissions we received. Survey responses and written submissions have been collated and summarised and were presented to elected members in a workshop on 25 August.

At the workshop elected members heard presentations from Grain Producers SA, The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) and McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association (MVGWTA). Where permission was provided by the presenters, their presentations are available here: NASAA, MVGWTA.

The survey data and submissions were presented in a report on 15 September to help Council decide on whether or not to make a request to the Minister for our region to be a non-GM crop area. At this meeting, Council decided to apply to the Minister for our region to be a non-GM crop area.

Our application to the Minister was submitted on 28 September with an addendum sent on 14 October (copies are provided on this page). On 20 October we received a letter from the Minister acknowledging receipt of our submission. The Minister will make a determination that will be Gazetted (made law) by 15 November 2020. Once a decision has been made we will provide an update on this page, and will write to everyone that provided feedback and provided their contact details on the outcome.

Thank you to everyone that participated in this process.

Do you have a question?  Check out the FAQs on this page, and if you have a question that is not covered please feel free to post it here and we will get back to you a.s.a.p.

Q & A

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    I asked many people in the Port Noarlunga region whether they knew of this issue with GM and the council community engagement process. None of them had heard of it. I had to personally email many people information about the community engagement process. Cany you please tell me where the issue was publicised besides council documents and digital platforms?

    Louloudi11 asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your question.

    Ensuring everyone gets to hear about the opportunity to provide input into Council’s decisions is always a challenge.  We use a range of techniques in an attempt to reach people, and this can vary depending on the project and the relevant stakeholders.

    For this particular project the Minister will only consider evidence related to the trade and marketing impact of GM crops. This includes whether or not local food producers and manufacturers can demonstrate that their capacity to market and export their product would be affected by our area’s GM status. 

    Our promotion for the community engagement included:

    • letters mailed to more than 2000 primary producers in our region
    • emails to business and tourism associations and markets
    • emails to members of parliament
    • roadside banners in ten locations around our region
    • posters in the Clarendon General Store, Kangarilla Post Office and the Home Grain Bakery at McLaren Flat
    • a Facebook post
    • information on our main website (www.onkaparingacity.com )
    • a dedicated page on Your Say Onkaparinga
    • an email to all of the registered members on Your Say Onkaparinga


    Kind regards,

    The Your Say Onkaparinga team

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    Is there a reason that the feedback is restricted to trade and marketing issues? It seems to me that while there are significant problems in those aspects, we should not be neglecting matters affecting the health of growers, residents, processors, retailers and consumers.

    SteveE asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your question Steve.  

    The state government (Primary Industries and Regions SA) has stated on their website that should councils decide to apply for their region to be designated GM-free “…applications should:

    • relate to risks to marketing and trade only
    • not include matters of human health or environmental impacts, as these are managed under Commonwealth legislation
    • demonstrate that stakeholders in their area are currently receiving a marketing or trade advantage as a result of being no GM food crop area
    • show evidence of market and trade advantages, including any price premiums, that could not be achieved without being declared a no GM food crop area
    • include a summary of all views expressed during consultation (in favour or against declaration).” [END QUOTE]


    You can visit the PIRSA website here for more information: https://www.pir.sa.gov.au/primary_industry/genetically_modified_gm_crops/apply_to_become_a_no_gm_food_crop_area

    Kind regards,

    The Your Say Onkaparinga team

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    It is worth us considering as a region whether the next generation of vines that are resistant to trunk diseases / leaf roll / GVA are going to come through gene editing technology like CRISPR (which I think would be classed as GM).

    Oli Madgett asked 4 months ago

    That is a great question Oli, and thank you for raising it. 

    When deciding whether to write to the Minister for our region to be GM-free, Council will need to consider not just the trade and marketing implications of any existing GM crops like canola, but the potential for any future GM crops too. 

    We reached out to the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator regarding your question and here is their response:

    In early 2019 the Gene Technology Regulator completed a technical review of the Gene Technology Regulations 2001.  The technical review ran from 2016 to 2019 with the aim of bringing the legislation up-to-date with current science. 

    Following extensive consultation, including public consultations on regulatory options (2016) and on amendment proposals (2017-2018), amendments were agreed by the Commonwealth, States and Territories through the Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology and made in April 2019. The majority of amendments commenced on 8 October 2019, including amendments to resolve previous legal uncertainty about the regulation of several new technologies including CRISPR techniques, also known as genome editing. The amendments explicitly capture most genome editing techniques as requiring regulation under the legislation. One technique, known as SDN-1, is excluded because SDN-1 organisms present no different risk than organisms carrying naturally occurring genetic variations and cannot be distinguished from conventionally bred animals or plants.

    For further information regarding the technical review of the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 please see: http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/Content/reviewregulations-1 

    For further information regarding the amendments resulting from the technical review please see:  http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/Content/amendments+to+the+regs+2019

    The Commonwealth Gene Technology Act 2000 and the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 and 2019 amendments are available from the Federal Register of Legislation.” [END QUOTE]

    Kind regards,

    The Your Say Onkaparinga team

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    I am very worried if this goes ahead. As a beekeeper, studies have shown the GM crops have a detrimental effect on bee populations. How much time has been spent by council investigating what impact this will have on both our bees and the honey produced?

    Rod S. asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question Rod, and raising your concerns regarding bees and honey.

    The moratorium on GM crops has already been lifted by the state government and GM crops are currently allowed in Onkaparinga. However, Council are considering whether to apply to the Minister to make our area GM-free.

    We are seeking any information or evidence on the affect of GM crops on trade and marketing (positive, negative or nuanced), and would be interested in anything you are able to provide regarding the apiary industry.  Please complete the survey on Your Say and upload any relevant documentation that you may have.  All feedback will be collated and summarised and presented in a report to help Council decide on whether or not we will make a request to the Minister for the City of Onkaparinga to be a non-GM crop area.

    Thank you.


    Kind regards,

    The Your Say Onkaparinga team

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    As we own a vineyard very concerned whether GM crops will make their way into cover crops and the make it hard to manage theses areas. I have watched a Documentary on the damage done by these plants being pesticide resistant. Not good I feel for McLaren Vale.

    Thomas Demasi asked 4 months ago

    Thanks for your comment Thomas. It is great to hear from our grape growers on this topic.  If you haven't already, please also fill in the survey.  Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    The Your Say Onkaparinga team