7.1 Australian approvals of GM sugarcane

7.1.1 Previous releases approved by Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee or the Regulator

103. The Regulator has previously issued licence DIR 070/2006 for the limited and controlled release of GM sugarcane containing five of the same plant growth genes (described in that application as shoot architecture genes) and the same nitrogen use efficiency gene. This licence, issued in February 2007, also includes five other genes for altered shoot architecture and three other genes for enhanced water use efficiency. The size of the release is up to 18 ha, and its duration is 3 years and 9 months.

104. In addition the Regulator has issued three other licences for the limited and controlled releases of GM sugarcane with different introduced traits. DIR 019/2002 was issued to BSES Limited for trials with GM sugarcane containing a green fluorescent reporter gene on 0.7 ha. DIR 051/2004 was issued to the University of Queensland for trials with GM sugarcane expressing sucrose isomerase over six years on an area of up to 3.55 ha per year. DIR 078/2007 was issued to the University of Queensland for trials with GM sugarcane with altered sugar production over six years on an area of up to 65 ha.

105. In addition, seven field trials were authorised under the former voluntary system that was overseen by the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee (GMAC): PR-23 (University of Queensland and BSES, 1993-1998) and PR-23X (University of Queensland and BSES, 1993-1994) expressing reporter genes; PR-68 (University of Queensland and BSES, 1996-2000) and PR-68X (University of Queensland and BSES, 1998-2001) modified for increased leaf scald resistance; PR-72 (BSES, 1997-2000) modified for Sugarcane mosaic virus resistance; PR-73 (CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, 1997-2000) and PR-136 (CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, 2000-2003) both modified for increased sugar yield and altered juice colour.

106. There have been no reports of adverse effects on human health or the environment resulting from any of these releases.

7.1.2 Approvals by other Australian government agencies

107. The Regulator is responsible for assessing risks to the health and safety of people and the environment associated with the use of gene technology. Other government regulatory requirements may also have to be met in respect of release of GMOs, including those of AQIS, FSANZ, and APVMA. This is discussed further in Chapter 3.

108. FSANZ is responsible for human food safety assessment and food labelling, including GM food. The applicant does not intend to use materials from the GM sugarcane lines in human food, accordingly an application to FSANZ has not been submitted. FSANZ approval would need to be obtained before materials from these GM sugarcane lines could be sold for use in food.

7.2 International approvals of GM sugarcane

109. There have been no releases of these GM sugarcane lines internationally. However, there have been releases of other GM sugarcane plants. The traits which have been modified include pharmaceutical protein production, virus resistance, insect pest resistance and herbicide tolerance10.

10<http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/status/relday.html>, <http://gmoinfo.jrc.ec.europa.eu> accessed 3 April 2009