Crop Biotech Update

Australia's OGTR Releases Report on Herbicide Tolerance Review

February 2, 2022

In Australia, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) released the report of a commissioned review on genetically modified (GM) crops containing multiple herbicide tolerant traits and impacts on herbicide use, herbicide tolerance, and herbicide resistance management issues in Australia.

After almost 20 years of planting GM cotton and canola, it is timely to consider issues associated with herbicide tolerant traits, weed resistance, and changes in weed management measures. As part of 20 years of operation of the Gene Technology Act 2000, the Regulator commissioned a report to provide advice on GM crops with multiple herbicide tolerant traits. The report examined the regulatory, industry, technological, and agronomic practices surrounding the use of herbicides and herbicide tolerant crops in Australia. It also highlights the importance of maintaining regulatory independence, public transparency, and a science-based risk management approach.

The report state that long-term sustainable use of GM and non-GM herbicide tolerance traits within Australia provide flexible crop rotation choices. Currently, regulators only consider individual traits or herbicide uses when assessing risks and approving organisms or pesticide uses. However, to maximize the use of technology, industry feedback mechanisms into regulatory processes may help manage strategic farming systems issues.

The report also identified a need and opportunity for improved strategic regulatory guidance on crop herbicide tolerant stewardship for volunteer crop control. The options highlighted in this report include the following:

  • Broadening the role of existing strategic expert stewardship groups
  • Establishing a new commodity specific or related cross industry strategic expert stewardship group
  • Risk management options for stacked trait herbicide tolerant crop volunteers
  • Assessment of trade and market access issues arising from
    • herbicide residues on stacked GM and non-GM herbicide-tolerant crops and
    • chemicals used to control volunteer crops

For more information on this report, read the news release on the OGTR website.

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