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Crop Biotech Update

AgResearch Tests GM High Metabolizable Energy Ryegrass

August 1, 2018

AgResearch testing of genetically modified High Metabolisable Energy (HME) ryegrass shows that it can grow up to 50% faster than conventional ryegrass, and has the ability to store more energy for optimum animal growth, to be more resistant to drought, and to produce up to 23% less methane (the largest single contributor to New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions) from livestock.

The research is funded by the New Zealand Government and industry partners including DairyNZ. Modelling also projects that adoption of GM ryegrass could lead to less nitrogen excreted into the environment by animals feeding on the ryegrass, thus less nitrate leaching and lower emissions of nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas.

The initial growing trial of two months was held last year, confirming the suitability of conditions for the growth of the GM plant. Full growing trial of five months is currently underway. If these trials become successful, the researchers will apply for animal feed trials which may be conducted in two years' time.

Read more from AgResearch.