GMO activities

What you should do
How long does it take
How much does it cost
Forms to complete



About activities relating to genetically modified organisms in South Africa

You need  a permit if you want to participate in activities relating to genetically modified organisms in South Africa. Apply for a permit at the Registrar of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
The various permits allow the following activities:

  • importation of GMOs into South Africa
  • exportation of GMOs from South Africa
  • contained use of GMOs within a laboratory, growth room or greenhouse
  • introduction of a GMO into the environment of South Africa
  • time extension of previously authorised activities
  • commodity clearance (authorisation for food, feed or for processing and excludes planting) of GMOs
  • commodity use (authorisation for use as food, feed or for processing) of GMOs
  • registration of facilities that are involved in activities with GMOs
  • GMO status certificates for export.

What you should do

  1. Complete the relevant application form for the type of activity you want authorisation for.
  2. Note the following prerequisites for certain applications:
    • field trial activities within South Africa must be done over a period of three growing seasons before you can apply for general release
    • applications to continue with an activity will only be accepted if that activity was previously authorised.
  3. Submit the application with the stipulated number of copies to the Registrar of GMOs.
  4. Submit an additional copy of the application, which contains no confidential business information, to the Registrar of GMOs.
  5. Pay the prescribed fee (tariffs are adjusted every year).
  6. Submit a report of previous activities conducted (where applicable).
  7. Submit proof of public notifications (where applicable).
  8. Applicants can use the following guidelines:

Process following your application

  • The Registrar of GMO determines compliance of the application with the provisions of the GMO Act, 1997.
  • The Advisory Committee evaluates the scientific data submitted with the application and makes a recommendation on the safety of the proposed activity to the Executive Council.
  • The Registrar receives public input within the time period allowed.
  • The Executive Council takes a decision, taking into consideration the application, recommendation by the Advisory Committee, public input and potential impacts on sectors such as agriculture, health, environment, labour, trade and science and technological development.
  • If the decision of the Executive Council is positive, the Registrar is authorised to issue a permit.
  • All permits are accompanied by containment conditions.

Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries monitor implementation of the permit conditions.

How long does it take

 Application  No.  of days
Importation/exportation of genetically modified organisms with general release/commodity clearance approval  30
Use of genetically modified organisms with commodity clearance  approval  30
Contained use of genetically modified organism and/or import or export permit*  120
Trial release of genetically modified organisms and/or import or export  permit*  120
General release of genetically modified organisms  270
Commodity clearance of genetically modified organisms  270
Registration of facilities (new, renewal and amendment)  60

*import/export of genetically modified organisms that do not have a general release or commodity clearance approval 

How much does it cost

Tariffs for 2022/23

Forms to complete

(Forms are provided in PDF format. To open PDF documents, you need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader 4 or higher installed on your computer.)

Application forms [PDF] 

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