Genetically modified crops in Western Australia

Page last updated: Tuesday, 21 May 2019 - 2:47pm

This page contains information on commercial and experimental plantings of genetically modified (GM) crops carried out in the past and present in Western Australia. It also provides information on experiments with other GM organisms.

Commercial plantings

In Western Australia, GM cotton, GM canola and GM safflower have been commercially planted since 2008, 2010 and 2018 respectively.

The Office of the Gene technology Regulator (OGTR) maintains oversight of commercially grown GM material to ensure it remains safe for human health and the environment.

GM Cotton

The GM cotton traits assist growers with pest and weed management, and may reduce the environmental impacts of farming when compared with conventional (non-GM) cotton. To date, there has been a 99.5 per cent uptake of GM cotton varieties by cotton growers in Australia. 

Since 2002, the (OGTR)  has issued eight licences for the commercial release of different varieties of herbicide tolerant or insect resistant or combined herbicide tolerant and insect resistant GM cotton. Cotton growers in Western Australia have been permitted to grow commercially authorised GM cotton since 2011.

GM Canola

Canola is grown for its seed which is crushed for the oil that is used in margarine, cooking oils and edible oil blends. A by product of the oil extraction is a protein rich meal used for animal feed.

Between 2003 and 2007, the Australian grains industry worked to develop and adopt protocols and processes to effectively deliver market choice. In 2007 major canola industry stakeholders announced the industry was ready to effectively segregate different marketing standards of canola through the supply chain.

Since 2003, the OGTR as issued seven commercial release licenses for herbicide tolerant and omega-3 oil content GM canola. GM Canola has been planted in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia since 2008 with a rapid uptake by many growers.

The area planted to GM canola in WA has grown to 34 per cent of total canola plantings since 2010 demonstrating grower demand for this technology.

GM Safflower

Safflower produces oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and has a potential use in industrial applications such as lubricants and plastics.

In 2018, the OGTR issued the first licence for the commercial release of GM safflower in Australia. There are two GM safflower lines approved in Australia under this licence. They have been genetically modifed to increase the level of a particular oil, oleic acid, in their seeds.

Experimental plantings

Other GM organisms

In addition to GM crops in Western Australia there have been a range of experiments carried out with other GM organisms. All of these experiments are carried out under the approval of the OGTR and a summary of these experiments is provided in the related documents.

For more details on the different categories of dealing refer to the OGTR website - notifiable low risk dealings and dealings not involving release webpages.

Contact information

Genetic Modification Policy and Regulation