View Full Version : GM canola trial go ahead in Australia

01-06-11, 12:45 PM
Peter Hemphill
December 29, 2010

AUSTRALIA'S gene technology regulator has given the green light to trials of a new genetically modified canola line.

The line, which has resistance to glysophate herbicide, is from Monsanto Australia. According to the Department of Health and Ageing, it is the fifth GM canola line to be given permission to be grown in trials and the 15th GM crop overall. Monsanto has been given approval to trial the dir105 canola line for four years from next March in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia.

The Office of Gene Technology Regulator said Monsanto was permitted to plant the trial line at two sites next year, eight in each of the second and third years and 20 sites in 2014. The OGTR said sites would be a maximum of 4ha in the first year and 10ha in subsequent years.

According to OGTR documents, the dir105 canola has been incorporated with an enzyme from the soil micro-organism Agrobacterium species which allows glyphosate to be sprayed on the crop without damage. "The GM canola proposed for release differs from the commercially-released Roundup Ready canola as it is expected to tolerate higher rates of glyphosate herbicides and have a wider window for herbicide application," it said.

Anti-GM campaigner and Gene Ethics executive director Bob Phelps said spraying the crop with glyphosate more often and in higher doses was not good for the environment or public health. Mr Phelps claimed glyphosate was linked to birth defects and miscarriages.

"No more field trials should be approved until the systemic problems with commercial GM canola contamination and risk management are resolved," he said. He said GM contamination in the crops of WA organic farmer Steve Marsh highlighted the risk to organic production was real.

Mr Phelps said the OGTR's risk assessment and management plan acknowledged there were risks with GM crop trials, but concluded the risks were manageable at the trial site. "However, the OGTR issues unrestricted and unconditional licences for commercial GM canola and does not mandate anyone to manage the risks," Mr Phelps said.

Monsanto was unavailable for comment.