The commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) crops is being accompanied by a debate with scientific, social, ethical, legal and metaphysical dimensions. In the face of this complex debate, governments need to regulate GM crops in a way that minimises negative impacts on biological and social environments. This paper is a critical examination of Australia's regulatory framework for the deliberate environmental release of GM crops, specifically in terms of its ability to advance ecologically and socially sustainable agriculture. Following a description of the novel nature of GM crops, I discuss how the approach selected, the definition of key terms and the parties being granted influence exclude social and ethical concerns from regulatory deliberation and threaten the development of socially sustainable agriculture. Threats to ecologically sustainable agriculture from the framing of GM crop regulation are discussed in relation to how the selected approach deals with ecological uncertainties and the baseline being used for acceptable risk comparisons.