Archive for May, 2016


Statement of Principles: Regulatory oversight of new breeding techniques

Source: ABCA

May 2016.

The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) recognises the importance of new techniques in plant and animal breeding. In most cases, new breeding techniques (NBTs) are innovative improvements and refinements of traditional plant and animal breeding methods.

Now breeders can induce very specific changes in plant and animal genes in a way that mimics the changes that occur in nature or through traditional breeding methods. Using NBTs can enable breeders to create the same, desired genetic variation with greater precision and efficiency than previous breeding methods.

Genomic changes produced by NBTs should be viewed in light of the inherent natural variability of plant and animal genomes, the comparable genomic changes that occur with the use of traditional breeding methods, and the long safe history of use of traditional breeding methods.

Regulatory oversight of products developed through NBTs, if needed, should be based on sound scientific principles and proportionate to risk.

Regulatory oversight that is not commensurate with risk is non value adding and results in delay and higher costs, which limit the access of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and public breeding institutions to the latest innovative breeding tools.

Plant and animal breeders need regulatory certainty so they can reliably plan their breeding programs, product development and market strategies.

Consistent regulatory oversight of products developed using NBTs would facilitate innovation and allow the uptake of advanced, innovative breeding applications by both private and public sector breeders.

Lack of clarity in regulatory oversight of products developed using NBTs hinders innovation and the economic benefits this could bring to Australian agriculture.


11 May 2016. Source: ABC Rural –

Debate got underway in the upper house of Western Australia’s Parliament on Tuesday night on legislation to repeal the WA Genetically Modified Crop Free Areas Act 2003.

The act prohibits the cultivation of genetically modified crops in WA. It was introduced by the Gallop Labor Government.

In 2003 canola was released in Australia containing a GM trait that makes the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.

Farmers in WA grow GM canola via an exemption to the Genetically Modified Crop Free Areas Act, but the current Liberal Government wants to repeal the act and remove it.

This would see regulation of GM crops in WA rest with the national Office of Gene Technology Regulator…


03 May 2016. Source: Weekly Times (VIC)

Exports of Australian genetically modified canola to Europe are expected to hit records levels this year.

Heavy discounts on the biotech crop are changing EU demand preferences. The EU is a critical market for Australian canola, but until now it has taken little GM canola, grown here since 2008.

Last season the discount on GM canola was more than $60/tonne after China dropped out of the market.

Five ships from Australia with GM canola landed in Europe late last year, according to grain industry sources and Monsanto, which owns the Roundup Ready gene patent used in Australian GM canola.

There has also been a spike in Canadian canola imports to the EU. Almost all canola grown in Canada is biotech variety. LachStock Consulting canola export figures for the past financial year show Canada exported 400,000 tonnes of canola to the EU, up from 77,000 tonnes in 2014-15 and 86,000 in 2013-14.

These figures also show 1.5 million tonnes of Australian canola has been sold into the EU this financial year.

Australian Oilseeds Federation executive ­director Nick Goddard said the non-GM premium had reached a point where canola buyers were willing to accept GM product…

Victorian Farmers Federation grains president Brett Hosking said growing acceptance of GM was encouraging.

“I think it’s validation of the science and research that’s goes into GM … it has a place in our production system and should be evaluated on its merits,” he said.


April 2016. Source: Media release, ISAAA.

Today, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report detailing the adoption of biotech crops, “20th Anniversary of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops (1996-2015) and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015,” showcasing the global increase in biotech hectarage from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 179.7 million hectares in 2015. This 100-fold increase in just 20 years makes biotechnology the fastest adopted crop technology in recent times, reflecting farmer satisfaction with biotech crops.

It is estimated that farmers in up to 28 countries have reaped more than US$150 billion in benefits from biotech crops since 1996. This has helped alleviate poverty for up to 16.5 million small farmers and their families annually totaling about 65 million people, who are some of the poorest people in the world.

“More farmers are planting biotech crops in developing countries precisely because biotech crops are a rigorously-tested option for improving crop yields,” said Clive James, founder and emeritus chair of ISAAA, who has authored the ISAAA report for the past two decades.

Following a remarkable run of 19 years of consecutive growth from 1996 to 2014, with 12 years of double-digit growth, the global hectarage of biotech crops peaked at 181.5 million hectares in 2014, compared with 179.7 million hectares in 2015, equivalent to a net marginal decrease of 1 percent. This change is principally due to an overall decrease in total crop hectarage, associated with low prices for commodity crops in 2015. ISAAA anticipates that total crop hectarage will increase when crop prices improve. Other factors affecting biotech hectarage in 2015 include the devastating drought in South Africa.