Genetically Modified (GM) Crops Legislation Change

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Update 3 November 2020

GM free status denied for Adelaide Hills

Deputy Mayor Nathan Daniell said Adelaide Hills Council is disappointed the State Government failed to take a regional approach and understand the importance of protecting the Hills premium brand, while still allowing other areas of the state to grow GM crops should they wish to.

“The Adelaide Hills is renowned for producing world-class premium products, a reputation which has been fostered over many years. Remaining GM free would have protected this brand and maintained important market and trade advantages for our primary producers.”

“Council has followed the legislated process as dictated by the Minister’s directive, undertaking extensive consultation with industry, business and the community, and their message was clear – they want our region to remain GM free.”

“Over 75 per cent of our community indicated that Council should apply for GM free status and the key driver behind this message was to protect our brand, and the marketing and trade advantages that GM free status provides to our primary producers.”

“This is a significant opportunity lost as currently none of the three GM crops licenced in Australia are grown in the Adelaide Hills Council area, yet our producers will now lose the current branding and marketing opportunities GM free status has allowed us to develop. This amounts to a net economic detriment for our region. We’d also like State Government to demonstrate the value to our region of denying GM free status.”

“It is frustrating the State Government provided flexibility in the legislation for Councils to apply for GM free status but subsequently rejected all eleven applications despite our ability to outline the benefits remaining GM free would bring. This decision has effectively nullified our efforts and community wishes in this regard. It’s also important to recognise that once GM free status is lifted it’s not easy to reverse the detrimental impacts.”

“Our primary producers have already expressed a level of uncertainty and concern about this decision and the reputational damage it may cause, particularly with regards to export markets who favour organic and biodynamic produce.”

“Given the above, Adelaide Hills Council believes an exemption should be provided until such time as a net economic benefit could be more fully realised.”

You can read the full Council media release here.

Update 2 November 2020

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham has decied that the GM moratorium will be lifted across mainland SA (KI is excluded).

“The GM Crop Advisory Committee assessed the 11 applications and deemed there wasn’t sufficient evidence to recommend designation as an area where no GM food crops can be grown. The Committee said individual businesses can maintain non-GM markets as occurs in other mainland states."

The 11 councils who unsuccessfully applied to have local GM moratoriums were Adelaide Hills Council, Alexandrina Council, Barossa Council, Berri Barmera Council, City of Onkaparinga, City of Playford, District Council of Yankalilla, Mount Barker District Council, City of Tea Tree Gully, Town of Gawler and City of Victor Harbor.

You can read the full SA Government media release here.

Council Consultation Outcomes

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to provide their feedback. Your comments were analysed and considered as part of Council's decision making and a full consultation report can be found here.

At its Ordinary Meeting on Tuesday 22 September 2020, Council unanimously decided to apply to the Minister for Primary Industries for the district to be desginated a non-GM crop area. Click here to read our full media release on this decision.


Project Overview

The moratorium on growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops in South Australia was lifted by the state government on 15 May 2020, 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. If the Minister grants this status this would mean no GM crops could be grown in the district. However, if the Minister refuses the application then GM crops would be allowed to be grown in the district.

The state government has told us this is a once-off opportunity.

When making a 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, particularly those businesses who might be positively or negatively impacted by lack of or otherwise, of a GM Free Zone in the Adelaide Hills Council district.

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.

Note that Council has had a Policy position since 2012 seeking that the Adelaide Hills Council is a GM free area. However as a result of the state government lifting the moratorium on growing Genetically Modified (GM), the aforementioned Policy requires a review and your feedback will influence how this policy is reviewed.

Update 3 November 2020

GM free status denied for Adelaide Hills

Deputy Mayor Nathan Daniell said Adelaide Hills Council is disappointed the State Government failed to take a regional approach and understand the importance of protecting the Hills premium brand, while still allowing other areas of the state to grow GM crops should they wish to.

“The Adelaide Hills is renowned for producing world-class premium products, a reputation which has been fostered over many years. Remaining GM free would have protected this brand and maintained important market and trade advantages for our primary producers.”

“Council has followed the legislated process as dictated by the Minister’s directive, undertaking extensive consultation with industry, business and the community, and their message was clear – they want our region to remain GM free.”

“Over 75 per cent of our community indicated that Council should apply for GM free status and the key driver behind this message was to protect our brand, and the marketing and trade advantages that GM free status provides to our primary producers.”

“This is a significant opportunity lost as currently none of the three GM crops licenced in Australia are grown in the Adelaide Hills Council area, yet our producers will now lose the current branding and marketing opportunities GM free status has allowed us to develop. This amounts to a net economic detriment for our region. We’d also like State Government to demonstrate the value to our region of denying GM free status.”

“It is frustrating the State Government provided flexibility in the legislation for Councils to apply for GM free status but subsequently rejected all eleven applications despite our ability to outline the benefits remaining GM free would bring. This decision has effectively nullified our efforts and community wishes in this regard. It’s also important to recognise that once GM free status is lifted it’s not easy to reverse the detrimental impacts.”

“Our primary producers have already expressed a level of uncertainty and concern about this decision and the reputational damage it may cause, particularly with regards to export markets who favour organic and biodynamic produce.”

“Given the above, Adelaide Hills Council believes an exemption should be provided until such time as a net economic benefit could be more fully realised.”

You can read the full Council media release here.

Update 2 November 2020

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham has decied that the GM moratorium will be lifted across mainland SA (KI is excluded).

“The GM Crop Advisory Committee assessed the 11 applications and deemed there wasn’t sufficient evidence to recommend designation as an area where no GM food crops can be grown. The Committee said individual businesses can maintain non-GM markets as occurs in other mainland states."

The 11 councils who unsuccessfully applied to have local GM moratoriums were Adelaide Hills Council, Alexandrina Council, Barossa Council, Berri Barmera Council, City of Onkaparinga, City of Playford, District Council of Yankalilla, Mount Barker District Council, City of Tea Tree Gully, Town of Gawler and City of Victor Harbor.

You can read the full SA Government media release here.

Council Consultation Outcomes

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to provide their feedback. Your comments were analysed and considered as part of Council's decision making and a full consultation report can be found here.

At its Ordinary Meeting on Tuesday 22 September 2020, Council unanimously decided to apply to the Minister for Primary Industries for the district to be desginated a non-GM crop area. Click here to read our full media release on this decision.


Project Overview

The moratorium on growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops in South Australia was lifted by the state government on 15 May 2020, 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. If the Minister grants this status this would mean no GM crops could be grown in the district. However, if the Minister refuses the application then GM crops would be allowed to be grown in the district.

The state government has told us this is a once-off opportunity.

When making a 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, particularly those businesses who might be positively or negatively impacted by lack of or otherwise, of a GM Free Zone in the Adelaide Hills Council district.

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.

Note that Council has had a Policy position since 2012 seeking that the Adelaide Hills Council is a GM free area. However as a result of the state government lifting the moratorium on growing Genetically Modified (GM), the aforementioned Policy requires a review and your feedback will influence how this policy is reviewed.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

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.

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    Dear Engagement Team, is Council aware of the economic consequences to the district if we allow the planting of GM crops? While they are currently contained to broad acre crops that are not grown in the area, GM apples, grapevines and yeasts ( think winemaking ) have all been developed. GM crops are generally discounted per ton compared to standard or organic on the domestic and overseas markets. Their impact on surrounding non GM farms has been legally proven as is their impact on the clean green image of State agricultural promotion campaigns. As AHC is currently engaged in seeking World Heritage listing for the greater Adelaide Hills it may well impact on this too. I therefore urge Council to apply to the State for an exemption to the current pro GM legislation as is your prerogative. AHC was the first Council in SA to declare itself GM free in 2012, please maintain your position. Regards Simon Jones.

    Simon Jones asked 5 months ago

    Dear Simon

    Thank you for your comments. Your feedback has been passed on to the project team for consideration and outcomes of the decision made by Council will be made available on this engagement page. 

    Kind regards

    Engagement Team

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    Did you know, For centuries, almost all carrots were yellow, white or purple. But in the 17th century, most of those crunchy vegetables turned orange. Why? It may have to do with Dutch politics. Next Nature explains: In the 17th century, Dutch growers cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence – and the color stuck. A thousand years of yellow, white and purple carrot history was wiped out in a generation. Although some scholars doubt if orange carrots even existed prior to the 16th century, they now form the basis of most commercial cultivators around the world. Presumably crosses between Eastern (purple), Western (white, red) and perhaps wild carrots led to the formation of the orange rooted carrot sub species.... Whatever the origins, the Long Orange Dutch carrot, first described in writing in 1721, is the forebear of the orange Horn carrot varieties so abundant nowadays. The Horn Carrot derives from the Netherlands town of Hoorn in the neighborhood of which it was presumably bred. All our modern, western carrots ultimately descend from these varieties. So all orange carrots are GM modified but still can be organically grown.

    Crafers asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for your comments Crafers.

    Please provide your feedback using the survey on Your Say and upload any relevant documentation that you may have relating food production.  Keep in mind that arguments need to be related to trade and marketing matters as per the Minister’s directive. 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 Adelaide Hills Council area to be a non-GM crop area.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    AHC Engagement Team


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    As a council, do you know that educated, board certified doctors in USA, where GM crops are widespread and have infiltrated the food chain either directly or via ingestion of feed lot animals, have been able to cure patients with chronic illnesses simply by changing their diet from the normal standard American diet with gm foods, to organic foods only? There is evidence that tens of thousands of citizens have recovered their health by doing only this. Do the research yourselves, by looking for independent (meaning not vested interest driven) sources. Happy to provide you with a starting point.

    Anne Dormer asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your comments Anne. 

    Please provide your feedback using the survey on Your Say and upload any relevant documentation that you may have relating organic food production.  Keep in mind that arguments need to be related to trade and marketing matters as per the Minister’s directive. 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 Adelaide Hills Council area to be a non-GM crop area.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    AHC Engagement Team

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    What will be the impact on organic agriculture and the value to producers of this high end organic produce. Cross contamination is a common issue when gm crops are introduced into any area. To this point in time no legislation has ever protected neighbouring farms from cross contamination either overseas or here in Australia. Uncontaminated non gm agricultural produce, particularly organic, command stop end prices around the world and that market is increasing. Will you jeopardise the industry because a couple of producers want the right to plant with no liability for the detrimental side effects!

    Anne Dormer asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your question Anne, and raising your concerns regarding cross contamination. 

    The moratorium on GM crops has already been lifted by the state government and GM crops are currently allowed in the Adelaide Hills. However, Council are considering whether or not to apply to the Minister to make our area GM-free.

    As per the Minister’s directive we are seeking any information or evidence on the affect of GM crops on trade and marketing aspects (positive, negative or nuanced), and would be interested in your comments regarding organic agriculture.  Note that the Minister will not consider any comments regarding impacts on human health or the environment. Please complete the survey on Your Say and upload any relevant documentation in this regard 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 Adelaide Hills Council area to be a non-GM crop area.

    Thank you

    Kind regards,

    AHC Engagement Team