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Crop Biotech Update

FSANZ Says New GM Soybeans Safe, Invites Public for Comments

April 15, 2020

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) released the findings of their assessment for genetically modified (GM) soybeans (GMB151) and found that there are no potential public health and safety concerns. They are now inviting the public to submit comments to assist considerations of its drafted food regulatory measure as part of their evaluation process.

GMB151 line was developed to be protected from parasitic nematodes and tolerant to HPPD-inhibitor herbicides like isoxaflutole. Its developer BASF applied for the GM soybeans' approval in 2019, indicating that soybean oil and soybean meal products will be derived from GMB151.

FSANZ conducted the evaluation of GMB151 soybean line in accordance with their process and safety standards. Among those investigated were its full characterization of the introduced gene sequences, biochemical, potential toxicity, and potential allergenicity. Also studied were the intended and unintended changes of the GM soybeans that may result from its genetic modification. Environmental risks resulting from growing the GM soybeans for food production nor risk to animals that may feed on the GM plants were, however, not included in the evaluation as the studies made were restricted to human food safety and nutritional issues. FSANZ ruled that foods derived from GMB151 soybean line are considered to be safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional soybeans.

FSANZ is now calling for submissions of comments on the application's drafted variation before handing down their decision whether to grant approval or otherwise. The public may submit their comments beyond the usual six-week period in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline is set for June 9, 2020.

The full details of the GMB151 soybean line assessment are made available by FSANZ.

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