The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) launched the third edition of The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops at the AusBiotech AusAg & Foodtech Summit in Adelaide.

Mr Ken Matthews AO, ABCA Chairman said that although the role of agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops in meeting production and sustainability challenges is widely recognised by farmers, public discussion is not always based on factual and accessible information.

“This updated Guide provides independent, factual, science-based information to contribute to a more informed national discussion about agricultural biotechnologies,” said Mr Matthews.

The third edition of the Guide was developed using the latest scientifically valid data and reviewed by ABCA’s Expert Scientific Panel, which is chaired by Dr TJ Higgins from the CSIRO. The Guide covers the science, performance, safety and regulation of commercialised GM crops as well as products in the pipeline. This updated edition of the Guide highlights the evolution of plant breeding innovations, such as genome editing using CRISPR-Cas9.

“Australia’s agriculture sector is a significant exporter, employer and driver of rural and regional communities. The uptake of innovative and emerging agricultural biotechnologies allows the sector to remain competitive and innovative in the face of global challenges like a changing climate and a reduction in arable land,” said Mr Matthews.

A record 185.1 million hectares of GM crops were grown globally in 2016, and 60 per cent of the world’s population live in the 26 countries growing GM crops. Despite the widespread adoption by farmers, the technology continues to stimulate considerable community discussion.

“Public policy and a regulatory environment that is guided by scientifically credible and factually correct information on agricultural biotechnology is crucial as Australian farmers and the world’s farming sector seek to double production of food, feed and fibre to meet the nutritional demand of a growing global population.”

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.

The Guide also presents information on ways to enable continued coexistence between GM and non-GM farming systems and features cases studies of Australian farmers growing GM crops.

The Official Australian Reference Guide to Agricultural Biotechnology and GM Crops is now available online.