The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) has received an application from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) banana plants. These plants have been modified to increase disease resistance and also contain an antibiotic marker gene that was used during the research process.
QUT has also applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for approval to sell the fruit and other products derived from these GM bananas as food. FSANZ is currently in the process of conducting a safety assessment and gathering public feedback on the application, including considerations for labeling requirements.
The decision-making process for the cultivation of these GM banana plants involves several steps. The first two steps, which include seeking advice from experts, agencies, and local councils, have already been completed. This advice was then used to develop a Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) for the application.
Currently, the public consultation period for the RARMP is open and will close on November 6, 2023. The OGTR is inviting written comments from the public regarding the protection of human health and safety as well as potential environmental impacts. The RARMP and associated documents can be accessed on the DGTR-199 webpage, and for those interested in obtaining the full application or a hard copy of the RARMP, they can contact the OGTR using the provided contact details.
In addition to public comments, further advice is being sought from experts, agencies, and authorities to ensure a comprehensive assessment of the application. The RARMP will be finalized considering the feedback received during the public consultation period.
The final step in the process involves the OGTR making a decision on whether or not to issue a license for the commercial release of the GM banana plants. This decision will be publicly announced, and the GMO Record will be updated accordingly, including the OGTR website. Subscribers who have signed up for updates will receive a notification once the license decision has been made.
For more information on this application or the gene technology regulation process, the OGTR’s website provides additional resources. Further inquiries can be directed to the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator using the contact information provided.
In summary, the OGTR has received an application from QUT for the commercial cultivation of GM banana plants and is currently seeking public comments on the associated Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan. The decision on whether to issue a license for the release of these plants will be made after considering all the feedback received during the public consultation period. FSANZ is also conducting a safety assessment for the sale of the GM bananas as food, and public feedback on this matter is also being sought.