Biotech Updates

Field Trials of Herbicide-Tolerant Sugarcane in Australia

June 18, 2009

Australia's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) has received an application from BSES Limited for a limited and controlled release of up to 6000 sugarcane lines genetically modified for herbicide tolerance. If approved, the release will take place at six BSES stations in Queensland on a maximum area of 26 ha per year from November 2009 to 2015. BSES has proposed a number of control measures to restrict the dissemination and persistence of the GM plants in the environment, including monitoring of fields for volunteer plants, destruction of plant materials not required for experimentation and isolation of fields from natural waterways. No plant materials from the GM sugarcane would be used for human food or animal feed.

In addition to the herbicide-tolerance genes, the sugar cane lines express the antibiotic resistance markers nptII and bla from E. coli and gfp gene from jelly fish. OGTR is currently preparing a risk assessment and risk management plan. It is expected to be available for public comment in the coming months.

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