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06 February 2024

ABCA Communique

Dr Joe Smith | Chair

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) convened on 6 February at the National Press Club in Canberra. The meeting was an opportunity for the leading farming, agricultural, biotechnology, industry, science organisations and key stakeholders to discuss a range of current and significant issues relating to biotechnology and Australian agriculture.

The challenge of achieving global food and nutritional security is complicated by climate change, marked by hoter and drier growing conditions and an increase in extreme weather events. Innovations afforded by agricultural biotechnology are critical in enabling Australian farmers to meet this momentous challenge. Against this backdrop, the Council highlighted how important it is for regulatory frameworks to keep pace with the many scientific advances being made in agricultural biotechnology so that farmers to have timely access to them.

The meeting received presentations from the three principal Australian government agencies involved with biotechnology regulation: the Department of Health and Aged Care, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR), and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Members welcomed and discussed updates on key topics such as progress implementing the recommendations of the Third Review of the National Gene Technology Scheme, consultations on gene drive regulation and cost recovery, significant OGTR activities, FSANZ progress on updating its assessment of New Breeding Techniques and international cooperation on risk assessments.

Leading academics, Professors Ian Godwin (University of Queensland) and Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide), shared their insights on effectively communicating agricultural biotechnology innovations to the public and key stakeholders to help improve their awareness and acceptance. This sparked a roundtable discussion on the important role the whole sector must play in enhancing public and stakeholder engagement.

The Council reaffirmed its commitment to playing an instrumental role in helping to ensure that public awareness, policy formulation and the regulatory framework are all underpinned by accurate and objective information about the tangible benefits that agricultural biotechnology presents to Australian agriculture and the broader community.

7 September 2022

ABCA Communiqué – 07 September 2022

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) met today in Canberra.

This was the first meeting of the Council with ABCA’s new Chair, Dr Joe Smith.

Representatives from CropLife Australia, AusBiotech, the Australian Seed Federation, the Australian Oilseeds Federation,CANEGROWERS, Animal Medicines Australia, Grain Producers Australia, GrainGrowers, Grain Trade Australia, Cotton Australia, the Ag Institute, the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Science and Technology Australia joined the meeting.

The Council met with biotechnology regulators and policy makers to discuss recent developments in the regulatory space. The Council discussed other topics of interest and upcoming opportunities for the sector. The Council also learned about initiatives to upskill the next generation of plant and animal breeders.

Members agreed it is vital that public policy is based on the best available science. The Council has a key role to ensure public awareness, public policy and the regulatory environment are guided by scientific and factually correct information regarding the benefits that agricultural biotechnology offers to Australian farmers.

Concerns were raised by some members of the Council about the length of time it is taking for completion of the implementation of the recommendations that followed the Third Review of the National Gene Technology Scheme. Members highlighted the importance of updating the Scheme both for agricultural and medical research.

Communiqué - 4 September 2017

ABCA Communique #7 – 4 September 2017

ABCA Communiqué #7 – 4 September 2017

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) met in Canberra on 4 September 2017. The meeting focussed on briefing and discussion regarding the 2017 Review of the National Gene Technology Regulatory Scheme.

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology (the Forum) recently announced its commitment to review the National Gene Technology Regulatory Scheme. Reviews of the Scheme are conducted at approximately five yearly intervals, in accordance with the Intergovernmental Gene Technology Agreement.

The Forum has announced that this will be a forward-looking review and will consider appropriate policy settings in what is an environmental of rapidly changing technologies.

The Council received a presentation on the review of the Scheme from senior Australian Government policy and regulatory officials.

The Council also noted the recent launch of the third edition of ABCA’s flagship publication, the Official Australian Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM crops. The third edition was updated using the latest scientific data and reviewed by ABCA’s Expert Scientific Panel.

In addition to providing factual information on agricultural biotechnology, the third edition of the Guide answers common questions about GM crops and clearly outlines the regulatory arrangements and food safety assessment requirements. This updated edition of the Guide also highlights the evolution of plant breeding innovations, such as gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9.

The ABCA supports regulation of gene technology that is science-based and commensurate with risk. The Council provides credible, balanced, science-based information on biotechnology, to enable the public, and particularly the farming sector to make informed decisions about the application, uses and future of gene technology in Australia.

For more information on Council activities and broader information about the sector, visit the ABCA website (

Ken Matthews AO| Chair
BEc(Sydney) DUniv(Flinders) FAIM FIPAA FTSE

Communiqué - 19 May 2017

ABCA Communique May 2017

ABCA Communiqué #6 – 19 May 2017


Ken Matthews AO| Chairman
BEc(Sydney) DUniv(Flinders) FAIM FIPAA FTSE


The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) met in Canberra on 19 May 2017. The theme for the meeting was the importance of effective, science-based, low level presence policies.

Low level presence (LLP) refers to the unintended presence, at low levels, of minute amounts of genetically modified (GM) plant material that has been approved in at least one country but not necessarily in the importing country.

The agriculture and food industry and the scientific community recognise the nature of biological systems and the practical limitations of supply chains. The potential for LLP occurs when importing countries maintain impractical zero tolerance import policies for GM products not yet approved. This represents a critical trade policy issue that has the potential to impact the Australian agricultural sector.

The Council today received presentations on a range of LLP associated issues by senior Australian Government officials and industry representatives.

ABCA encourages that all policy approaches from governments to deal with LLP incidents and any other related agricultural biotechnology matters are based on peer-reviewed and evidence-based science. ABCA also supports the Global LLP Initiative to negotiate arrangements to manage international trade potentially affected by LLP to be based on facts.

The Council also received briefings on state government moratoria and the review of the gene technology regulations.

For more information on Council activities and broader information about the sector, visit the ABCA website (

About ABCA
The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia Limited (ABCA) is the national coordinating organisation for the Australian agricultural biotechnology sector and was established to pursue recognition of the current and potential benefits of agricultural biotechnology. Working broadly across the agriculture sector, ABCA is committed to providing quality, factual, science-based information about gene technology in agriculture. ABCA is chaired by Mr Ken Matthews AO who was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services to public administration and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to regional communities, the national transport system and for his contribution to public administration in Australia.

Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia is a Company Limited by Guarantee with three supporting members: AusBiotech, CropLife Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation Ltd. The ABCA Council members are the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Ag Institute of Australia, Animal Medicines Australia, AusBiotech, Australian Oilseeds Federation, Cotton Australia, CropLIfe Australia, Grain Growers, Grain Trade Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, National Farmers Federation, and Science and Technology Australia.