Quarterly Update – Edition 12
- Council activity
- Key issues
- In the pipeline
- For information
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Welcome to the latest Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) update. This year we celebrated 20 years of genetically modified crop use in Australia, and around the globe, and while the introduction of GM cotton and canola varieties in Australia has been hugely successful, much work remains to be done to ensure farmers have the choice to use safe and approved GM crops and to clarify the regulatory future for new breeding technologies.
In a significant development, the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015 passed the Western Australian Legislative Assembly on 20 October. This has been applauded by Council Members, and the farming community in Western Australia, as we support the science-based, world-leading national regulatory system for GM crops as overseen by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator. Producers in Western Australia now have choice into the future of the type of approved crops they grow to suit their farming requirements. Unfortunately, growers in Tasmania and South Australia have no such choice.
The Council looks forward to the release of the final report of the Productivity Commission’s Public Inquiry into the Regulation of Australian Agriculture in the coming weeks. This report focuses on identifying specific areas of regulation that are unnecessarily burdensome, complex or redundant, such as the moratoria in place in Tasmania and South Australia.
New breeding technologies are increasingly in the spotlight globally. In particular, there has been much discussion about the regulatory approach to such technologies and the products resulting from them. To this end, the Council welcomes the technical review which has been initiated by Australia’s Gene Technology Regulator of the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 to provide clarity about whether organisms developed using a range of new technologies are subject to regulation as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and ensure that new technologies are regulated in a manner commensurate with the risks they pose.
ABCA recognises the importance of new techniques in plant and animal breeding and believes regulatory oversight should be science based, and clear and consistent to encourage innovation in Australian agriculture. Lack of clarity in regulatory oversight of products developed using NBTs hinders innovation and the economic benefits this could bring to Australian agriculture.
As you will note from this update, agricultural biotechnology continues to thrive globally, with new developments across multiple commodities – from horticulture to oilseeds, to cotton, red meat and dairy. ABCA looks forward to 2017, and its work in continuing to pursue recognition of the current and potential benefits of agricultural biotechnology by providing quality, factual, science-based information about gene technology in agriculture.
ABCA MEMBERS MEET
The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA) met in Canberra on 6 September 2016. The theme for the council meeting was regulation of new breeding techniques in agriculture.
Dr TJ Higgins provided a brief overview of NBTs in Australia. The Council meeting was addressed by Dr Raj Bhula, the newly appointed Gene Technology Regulator.
ABCA noted industry case studies in the plant and animal sectors highlighting issues of regulatory conflict between jurisdictions in relation to new breeding techniques.
Council Chair, Mr Ken Matthews AO, said that Council members had stressed the importance and urgency of having available a best-practice system of regulation of new breeding techniques for plant and animal-based agricultural products. Council members urged that regulations be based on science and evidence and be designed in proportion to risk.
Council members expressed their concern about current domestic and international uncertainty about the regulatory processes to apply to the rapidly evolving new breeding techniques.
They urged the several Australian agencies potentially involved in regulation of new breeding techniques to better coordinate their approaches and to strive for a clear, risk- based system of regulation, harmonised with best international practice, which facilitated market access for Australian exports.
In October, ABCA distributed an Issue Alert titled ‘WA’s GM Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015 passed’ which outlined ABCA’s response to the development, and provided links to Hansard, and various industry responses. Read about the removal of the GM crops moratorium in WA below.
ABCA provides a weekly summary of biotechnology news developments for subscribers. Contact ABCA to be added to the distribution list.
FOLLOW ABCA ON TWITTER
ABCA is on twitter at @info_ABCA.
WA GM FREE CROPS AREAS REPEAL BILL 2015
The Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015 passed the Western Australian Legislative Assembly on 20 October, securing WA farmer choice to access an important agricultural biotechnology – genetically modified crops.
Key responses to this legislative development include:
- The Hon. Mark Lewis, Minister for Agriculture and Food, WA Government media release – “This will give certainty to our farmers and investors, reduce red tape and provide access to new opportunities and tools for grain growers to be innovative…It is essential when we are presented with these new and approved technologies to produce higher yielding crops, that we don’t delay in embracing them. We don’t want to see our valuable agriculture sector lose out to other Australian States, not to mention our international competitors.”
- Gary McGill, PGA Western Graingrowers Chair media release – “The capacity of WA grain farmers to exercise freedom of choice to grow GM crops has been a long and at times frustrating journey…It has taken 13 years to give WA farmers unfettered access to a technology that reduces herbicide use, reduces weed burden and reduces farm machinery fuel use. …On behalf of the PGA and its members I would also like to thank the Premier and his Government for repealing the GM Crops Free Areas Act 2003…I commend his Government for its strong support of science and innovation in Western Australian agriculture.”
- Duncan Young, Grains Section President, WA Farmers media release – “WAFarmers has always supported giving growers the choice to grow GM crops, and with the passing of the Bill, they can now make that choice as to whether the use of genetically modified cultivars is an option they want to pursue,” he said…Continued research to help find solutions to ongoing problems such as frost, salinity and drought will be enhanced by having this Act repealed, giving certainty to farmers and researchers.”
- Michael Lamond, Chair, Oilseeds Council, Grain Industry Association of WA (GIWA) media release – “The benefit to WA growers from this legislation is both immediate and long term. It gives growers choice on the type of canola they can grow now, and it gives canola breeders the confidence to continue to breed high yielding canola varieties for WA in the future…With GM canola, growers benefit sooner from new higher yielding varieties, coupled with new output traits, than would be the case with conventionally bred canola.”
- Matthew Cossey, Chief Executive Officer, CropLife Australia media release – “The passing of the government’s repeal bill ensures WA’s agriculture sector continues to be able to embrace innovation and modern improved farming technologies, serving WA growers well now, and in the future, and clearing the way for a more productive and environmentally sustainable agricultural sector.”
- Tony May, Managing Director, Monsanto Australia media release – “The grains industry has long recognised that new technologies, such as GM, are key to boosting productivity and competiveness in the Australian agriculture sector…The repeal of the Act gives growers certainty that not only will they be able to use existing GM technologies but they will also have access to future advancements in plant biotechnology that could improve their productivity and sustainability.”
- Hansard extract, 20 October 2016, Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill 2015
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF GENE TECHNOLOGY REGULATIONS 2001
The Gene Technology Regulator has initiated a technical review of the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 (the Regulations) to provide clarity about whether organisms developed using a range of new technologies are subject to regulation as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and ensure that new technologies are regulated in a manner commensurate with the risks they pose.
OGTR has prepared a Discussion Paper canvasing four options for how new technologies could be regulated, which includes consultation questions. OGTR is seeking submissions addressing these consultation questions. Proposals for amendments to other technical or scientific aspects of the GT Regulations are also invited. All proposals must be supported by a rationale and, where possible, a science-based argument.
It is within the scope of the technical review to exclude specific techniques or organisms from regulation, via listing in the Regulations, if they were not given a clear treatment at the inception of the scheme. It is also within scope to alter exclusions if scientific understanding of the risks particular techniques or organisms pose has since changed.
Submissions should be received by 16 December 2016.
DRAFT REPORT RELEASED: PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE REGULATION OF AUSTRALIAN AGRICULTURE
Last year, the Productivity Commission was tasked with undertaking an inquiry into the regulation of Australian agriculture, and, in July, the Productivity Commission released its draft report which made preliminary recommendations, including identifying specific areas of regulation that are unnecessarily burdensome, complex or redundant, and priority areas for regulatory reform. Of relevance to agricultural biotechnology, the Commission made the following findings and recommendations:
- That there is no economic or health and safety justification for banning the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) organisms. The Commission concluded that there is no demonstrated market failure regarding the co-existence of GM and non-GM production systems; and therefore state and territory governments should not have the ability to impose moratoria.
- That the New South Wales, South Australian, Western Australian [no longer applicable], Tasmanian and Australian Capital Territory governments should repeal their legislation that puts in place moratoria on the commercial cultivation of GM crops.
- That the scope and extent of regulation should be reduced when developments in science are sufficient to abate uncertainties about the safety of new technologies.
- That the case for mandatory labelling of GM foods is weak.
- That Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) should remove the requirement in the Food Standards Code to label genetically modified foods.
- That it is difficult to justify a mandatory labelling regime on the basis of consumer concerns, given that approved GM foods have been assessed by Regulators to be as safe as conventional foods.
The final report and recommendations and Government response is expected before the end of the year.
Despite the Productivity Commission report, the Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the state’s moratorium “remained appropriate” and that there would be no change to the existing five-year agreement. Tasmania’s GM crop moratorium will be reviewed in 2019.
- pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/agriculture – report
SA GOVT COMMISSIONED REPORT LOOKING AT NON-GM MARKET OPPORTUNITIES RELEASED
The Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide conducted a study of the ‘Identification and Assessment of Added-Value Export Market Opportunities for Non-GM Labelled Food Products from South Australia’ for the Department of Primary Industries and Regions in South Australia, and the Final Summary Report for this study has now been publicly released.
The report’s analysis relies on the proxy indicators ‘Better for you’, ‘naturally healthy’ and ‘organic’ in the absence of a specific non-GM product category in the data sets they used.
This makes the findings of the report meaningless as they do not actually relate in any way to ‘non-GM’.
Most importantly, the report fails to show any economic benefit from SA maintaining its GM moratorium.
The report fails to show any justification as to why GM and non-GM production could not co-exist in South Australia, as it does in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, where there is no loss of export market share due to production of GM crops in those states.
The report also fails to distinguish between certified non-GM (and the significant costs involved in this process) and conventionally produced food products.
The report itself concludes that as opposed to maintaining the GM moratorium in SA “Greater opportunities lie in developing a broad based platform of ‘naturally healthy’ products”.
According to a news article, Grain Producers SA said the report had not identified any price premiums being achieved for SA graingrowers to show the benefit of remaining GM-free; and they said there were a number of agronomic benefits associated with growing GM crops that SA croppers were missing out on.
BIOFORTIFIED GM RICE SHOWS SIGNIFICANT PROMISE
Australian researchers have announced a major breakthrough in the development of biofortified rice using gene technology to address malnutrition in some of the world’s poorest, and most populous countries.
Rice is the staple food for billions of people throughout the developing world, but it has little nutritional value. It means many people who depend on rice as a staple food are effectively being starved of essential micronutrients such as iron, zinc and pro-vitamin A. Nutritionists call it “hidden hunger.” The World Health Organization estimates two billion people, or 30 per cent of the world’s population, are anaemic, in many cases due to iron deficiency.
Addressing this problem, University of Melbourne plant geneticist Dr Alex Johnson and his colleagues have created a genetically modified (GM) rice that produces grain with significantly more iron and zinc through a process called biofortification. And field trials have now shown that the biofortified rice is just as high yielding as conventionally bred rice varieties.
The importance of biofortification to boost the nutritional value of crops has recently been in the spotlight because the World Food Prize, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for food research, was awarded to Dr Howarth Bouis and his colleagues at HarvestPlus, a US-based organisation that has delivered 150 varieties of 12 different nutritionally-enhanced crops around the world. Although, Dr Bouis and his colleagues do not use genetic modification in their research, he is hopeful that it may be an option in the future.
RICE WITH HEALTHIER STARCH PROPERTIES DEVELOPED
University of Tasmania scientists have discovered a way to increase the production of resistant starch in rice, which in turn improves its digestibility, and has positive health implications for billions of people.
“Normally rice is digested relatively quickly, and because most of the component of the rice is starch, which is made up of sugars, that essentially gives you a sugar hit,” he said.
“So the modified rice contains this different kind of starch which is digested more slowly and therefore you don’t get that same sugar hit,” said Professor Steven Smith.
AUSTRALIAN FARMERS LAUNCHED
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has launched Australian Farmers, a new online home for Australia’s farming community. The platform www.farmers.org.au offers localised weather data to improve decision-making; enables farmers to exchange ideas and advocate on the issues that matter most; and provides the latest news about food, fibre and farming.
GMO ANSWERS SERIES
Forbes launched its third annual ‘Get to Know GMOs’ month in October to answer consumers’ most pressing questions about GMOs. GMO Answers posted five articles, and the topics were:
- Nature, the first creator of GMOs
- GMOs will only grow in impact
- Yes, GMOs are safe but questions remain
- Taking a fresh look at GMOs
- Building a better bean story
NON-GM LABELLING GUIDELINES SET FOR MEAT AND EGGS IN THE USA
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released guidance documents which will allow, for the first time, so-called “negative claims” to be used on meat and egg products where GM ingredients or GM animal feed were not used.
These additional labeling options, announced in August, take effect immediately and give food makers information and examples on how to label products as non-GM.
In relation to feed labeling, examples provided as acceptable include:
- Pasture raised beef fed a vegetarian diet with no bioengineered ingredients
- Chicken raised on a diet containing no genetically engineered ingredients
- Derived from beef fed no GMO feed.
Acceptable claim terminology for multi-ingredient products, which FSIS will accept are:
- Contains No GMO ingredients
- No genetically modified ingredients
- Ingredients used are not bioengineered
- No genetically engineered ingredients through the use of modern biotechnology.
As far as compliance is concerned, because FSIS does not have the ability to independently verify negative claims for ingredients or feed, it requires establishments that make these claims to comply with standards established by a third-party certifying organisation. The third-party certifying organisation’s standards must be publicly available online and the label or labeling must disclose the website address of the third-party certifying organisation. FSIS also requires that the establishment demonstrate that its claims of third-party certification are truthful and not misleading.
USDA says the nationwide, voluntary GMO labeling law approved by Congress and signed by the President set rules for labeling products as GMO-free, allowing for the change.
GM FOOD APPROVAL APPLICATIONS – UPDATE
The table below provides a summary of applications made to amend the Food Standards Code by approving the listed GM commodities as safe for use in Australia and New Zealand.
|A1116||Corn||Syngenta Australia (MZIR098)||Herbicide tolerance and insect resistance||This application has been approved.|
|A1118||Corn||Monsanto Australia (MON87419)||Herbicide tolerances||This application was approved by FSANZ in June.|
|A1128||Potato||SPS International Inc||Reduced acrylamide potential and reduced browning.||Public submissions closed on 30 September 2016.|
OGTR LICENCE UPDATES
This table provides a summary of licence applications and approvals granted by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) in relation to agricultural biotechnology in the last quarter.
|DIR 143||Cotton||Bayer CropScience||Insect resistant and herbicide tolerant cotton and cotton with dual herbicide tolerance.||Commercial release application for two cottons. Public comment on the Risk Assessment Risk Management Plan (RARMP) closed in October.|
|DIR 145||Cotton||Monsanto Australia Limited||Insect resistant and herbicide tolerant cotton and cotton with tolerance to three herbicides.||Commercial release application of two cottons. Public comment on a consultation Risk Assessment Risk Management Plan (RARMP) closed in October.|
|DIR 146||Banana||Queensland University of Technology||Disease resistance to Fusarium wilt disease.||Field trial licence application. Public comment sought on a consultation Risk Assessment Risk Management Plan (RARMP) by 17 November 2016.|
|DIR 147||Cotton||Monsanto Australia Limited||Insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.||Field trial licence being sought. A Risk Assessment Risk Management Plan (RARMP) will be this month for public comment.|
|DIR 149||Indian Mustard||Nuseed Pty Ltd||Altered oil content.||Field trial licence being sought. A Risk Assessment Risk Management Plan (RARMP) will be released this month for public comment.|
|DIR 150||Potato||Queensland University of Technology||Disease resistance.||Field trial licence being sought. A Risk Assessment Risk Management Plan (RARMP) will be released in December 2016 for public comment.|
NEXT GENERATION COTTON LAUNCHED IN AUSTRALIA
Australia’s tradition of leading the way in GM cotton innovation continues unabated with the global launch of the latest generation of insect-resistant cotton, Bollgard III, this cotton season.
According to the technology’s developers, Bollgard III will offer growers greater flexibility in their crop management regimes, and it will increase the longevity of the technology, because in addition to the Bt proteins found in Bollgard II, Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab, Bollgard III contains a third protein, Vip3A, effectively giving the technology a third mode of action which means each protein kills larvae in a different way, and therefore makes it increasingly difficult for the cotton pest, Helicoverpa spp. to develop resistance to any of the Bt proteins.
LOOK TO THE DESERT TO FUTURE-PROOF CROPS: SAYS RESEARCHER
Dr Steve Wylie from Murdoch University has urged Australian researchers to look to the genetic resources in our desert plants to create GM crops able to withstand future climate conditions in an article in The Conversation.
He writes that the world’s four main staple crops – wheat, rice, soybean and maize – have different relative tolerances to abiotic stress such as drought, heat, soil salt and frost, but that these crops are generally not well adapted to marginal farmlands, and traditional breeding has largely failed to improve these limitations.
Researchers at Murdoch University are looking to gene technology to deliver tougher crops for a hotter, drier world, with the best-case being that the stress-tolerance strategies that evolved in desert plants can be applied to crops, so they can survive harsher climates while maintaining, or improving, current yields.
“The flora and fauna of Australia are potentially an innovation goldmine,” said Dr Wylie.
COMMUNICATION MISTAKES IN AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
The biotechnology sector should stop trying to use science and information to push its message surrounding GM food and instead work on winning consumer trust according Jack Bobo, Chief Communications Officer, Intrexon.
Mr Bobo recently visited Australia to speak at the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC), and one of his key messages at the Conference was that organisations involved in communicating about GM foods and crops needed to personalise their message to consumers rather than lecture them on the overarching benefits of GM technology.
“It’s about the scientist as a story-teller and personalising the message – if they get the ‘why’ of what you are saying they don’t care about the ‘what’,” Mr Bobo said.
“Don’t just sell the technology to consumers but take them on the journey as to why it is worthwhile,” said Mr Bobo.
Mr Bobo said he believed the major breakthrough in consumer acceptance of GM would come when a trait came that delivered a better product than the conventional one, and that was unlikely to be a processed grain product, but could be something like the non-browning apple commercially-approved for sale in the USA.
SEGREGATION BOOSTS INDUSTRY OPTIONS
Segregation of GM canola from conventional varieties has given the industry a $375 million boost according to the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF).
At the Australian Grains Industry Conference in July, AOF President Jon Slee said that growers had been able to capture a premium for non-GM canola because of marketing segregation, to separate GM from non-GM canola, which was implemented in 2007.
GM canola has been grown commercially since 2008 in Victoria and NSW, and in Western Australia since 2010.
DANISH RESEARCHERS DEVELOP GM GRASS THAT REDUCES METHANE EMISSIONS
Danish researchers are using gene technology to develop a “super grass” that is easier for cow’s to digest, and therefore belch out less methane gas. The research is funded by Denmark’s environment and food ministry.
“It is simply a better diet for the cow, which can utilise the feed more efficiently and therefore doesn’t release as much methane when it burps,” said Torben Asp of Aarhus University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in an interview with the BBC.
GENE EDITING, HORNLESS COWS AND THE FUTURE OF AGBIOTECH
Science Friday, a weekly science program recently interviewed leading animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam from the University of California-Davis and Jennifer Kuzma from the Genetic Engineering and Society Center about hornless dairy cows developed through so-called gene-editing. The interviewer posed the question, have the researchers developed a new type of cow, or are they just speeding up the breeding process? The interview also talks about the future of biotechnology in agriculture, what defines a “genetically modified organism,” and how these technologies might be regulated.
GLOBAL DISEASE OUTBREAKS – WHO RECOGNISES POTENTIAL OF GM CATTLE RESEARCH
Cows engineered with human genes could stop our next disease outbreak according to research recently recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as promising new technology platforms that could help respond to disease outbreaks worldwide.
According to a news report, US-based SAB Biotherapeutics has genetically modified cattle to produce large quantities of human antibodies – proteins that help remove harmful foreign pathogens from the body – in a rapid fashion that could be used to treat patients suffering from infectious diseases like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and influenza.
The research, officially titled, “Targeted Human Immunoglobulin to WHO Priority Pathogens Using Transchromosomic (Tc) Bovine,” includes CSIRO’s Health and Biosecurity Australian Animal Health Laboratory as a participating institution.
EUROPEAN DAIRY FARMERS PAID MORE FOR GM-FREE MILK
Scandinavian dairy co-operative Arla Foods which imports Lurpak butters and Costello cheeses into Australia, will offer farmers a four per cent increase in their milk payments if they stop using GM feeds, according to news reports.
Director Theis Brogger said central European consumers, particularly in Germany, were willing to pay a premium for GM-free products.
“We are not saying that one type of milk is necessarily better than the other but we are, as a big global dairy company, always looking to be able to supply to the different needs and demands that are in the market. This is a new one.”
NZ HIGH COURT RULING SUPPORTS COUNCILS IMPOSING GM BANS
A High Court ruling in New Zealand has upheld the right for regional councils to decide whether GMOs can be banned in their jurisdictions.
In February, Federated Farmers filed an appeal with the High Court, arguing that local government had no role in legislating about GMOs and that the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO), not the Resource Management Act, was the overarching legislation that governs how GMOs were used in New Zealand.
Responding to the ruling, Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston re-asserted the group’s concerns.
“GMO technology is powerful and as such should be used responsibly and be appropriately regulated at central government level, not regional council level,” he said.
“Regional authorities are not appropriately equipped trying to regulate GMOs which may mean new emerging science which can have considerable benefit for our country will never get off the ground.”
Forget lab-produced meat, consumers in the USA may be able to access ‘animal-free’ milk at the end of next year according to an article in Food Navigator. The Perfect Day, ‘animal-free’ milk, contains all the same components as cow’s milk, including dairy proteins, but doesn’t use any animals in its production process. The milk is produced using genetically engineered yeast that produces proteins on an industrial scale, without harming animals, and with less impact on the environment according to the technology’s developers. Three experts are interviewed about the potential uptake of the product, with one, nutritional biochemist Dr Rachel Cheatham, saying, “To say ‘niche’ barely captures how narrow the audience for this is.”
THIRD GM APPLE POISED FOR COMMERCIAL APPROVAL
A third GM apple variety is poised for commercial approval in the USA. The apple’s developers, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, are petitioning the US Department of Agriculture for regulatory approval of the non-browning Arctic Fuji variety. This follows the approval of the Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden varieties last year. A public comment period will take place before a final determination is made.
CHINA BACKS MOVES TO PRODUCE GM SOYBEANS AND CORN
In its latest five-year plan for science and technology to 2020, China has outlined specific GM crops to fast-track the development of, and they include soybeans, used in food products such as tofu and soy sauce and for animal feed, and corn, used mostly for animal feed and industrial products like starch and sweeteners.
China is seeking to raise the efficiency of its agriculture sector, potentially boosting output of the crop by the world’s top soy importer and consumer. According to the article, China is expected to produce 12.5 million tonnes of soy in 2016/17 but will import a record 86 million tonnes. China permits the import of GM soybeans for use in animal feed.
The latest GM soybean approved for import into China, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean variety, recently received import approval into the European Union after months of delay.
GM-ONLY POTATO SEED FARMS
Simplot Plant Sciences which has received commercial approval to produce GM potato varieties in the USA has outlined its plans to ensure segregation and identity preservation through the potato supply chain. These plans include awarding contracts for propagating the GM potato seed exclusively to farmers willing to forgo raising conventional spuds, covering truck beds with tarps during transport and using segregated storage. Major processors and dehydrators will also have access to test kits to detect the potato’s genetic sequence.
Failure to keep GM potatoes segregated from conventional spuds caused market disruptions when previous GM potato varieties were introduced into the market more than a decade ago.
GM CANOLA PRODUCES HEALTHIER OMEGA-3 OILS
Using gene technology, researchers in the USA have developed a canola variety which produces additional omega-3 fatty acids. The GM canola may one day help fill increasing demand for the healthier oils, traditionally sourced from fish, which are said to have benefits relating to heart health and cognitive performance.
Australian researchers are also active in developing crops that produce healthier oils, with field trials of GM canola with an altered oil profile currently underway. Like the project in the USA, the GM canola being trialled in Australia has been modified to alter the oil content in the seed, specifically to produce long chain omega-3 oils. The GM canola will not enter the human food or animal feed supply but some GM material may be used for small-scale experimental animal feeding studies. Field trials have been licensed until 2019.
NOBEL WINNERS CRITICISE GREENPEACE
About a third of the world’s living Nobel prize winners have signed an open letter which attacks Greenpeace for it’s long-running campaigns against GM crops, reiterates the safety record of GM foods and crops, and calls for everyone to stand up for science particularly to help improve the lives of the world’s poor and malnourished.
The letter is particularly critical of Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice, a GM crop that could potentially save millions of lives by improving nutrition in the developing world.
The 108 signatories to the letter include world-renowned scientists, experts in biotechnology, medicine, chemistry and physics as well as recipients of the Nobel Prize in economics, literature and peace.
The letter concludes with:
“WE CALL UPON GREENPEACE to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general;
WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace’s actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.
How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?
UN CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Location: Cancun, Mexico
Date: 02-17 December 2016
Details: This is a conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The provisional agenda includes risk assessment and risk management; unintentional transboundary movements and emergency measures, transit and contained use of living modified organisms; and, review of the implementation and effectiveness of the Protocol.
Disclaimer: The Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia Limited (ABCA) gives no warranty and makes no representation that the information contained in these sections is suitable for any purpose or is free from error. ABCA accepts no responsibility for any person acting or relying upon the information contained in these sections, and disclaims all liability.