The New South Wales (NSW) Government enacted the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2003 (the Act) in June 2003.
The Act enabled a moratorium to be imposed on the cultivation of certain genetically modified (GM) plants in NSW. Moratorium Orders introduced under the Act prohibit the cultivation in NSW of a specified GM food plant or class of GM food plants.
The Act was introduced in response to concern about the possible impact on market access and trade resulting from the cultivation of GM crops in NSW, specifically GM canola following the approval of commercial release licences for Invigor® and Roundup Ready® canola in 2003 by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR).
The Act was due to expire on 3 March 2008.
On 16 July 2007 the NSW Minister for Primary Industries announced the establishment of an independent panel to review the Act prior to expiry.
The review assessed the expected impacts on marketing, trade and investment of extending or amending the Act, or allowing it to expire, and recommended a course of action. The review did not include recommendations on the regulation of human health and safety and environmental impacts, as they are beyond the scope of the Act.
The Review Panel invited written submissions from interested parties and stakeholders.
The Review Panel received 1365 submissions, met face to face with 31 stakeholders and reviewed published, publicly available information.
A Final Report was prepared and provided to the Government in September 2007.
In December 2007, the NSW Government amended the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Act 2003, extending the Act until 1 July 2011 and replacing the GM canola specific moratorium orders with a blanket moratorium on all GM food crops in NSW.
The amended legislation provides for the approval of the commercial cultivation of a specific GM food crop where the relevant industry makes an application which addresses criteria on industry preparedness to manage the GM food crop. The application is assessed by an Expert Committee which provides advice to the Minister.
A representative of the canola industry in NSW made an application to the Minister for GM canola to be approved for commercial cultivation in NSW.
The Minister referred the application to an Expert Committee to provide advice as to whether or not the application met the specified criteria set out in the legislation relating to issues including the requirements of domestic and international markets for GM canola and supply chain management.
The Expert Committee assessed the application and provided advice to the Minister that the application met the specified criteria.
On 14 March 2008 the Minister announced the approval of the commercial cultivation of GM canola in NSW.
GM canola has been grown commercially in NSW since 2008.