19. The parent organism of the GMOs is safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), which is exotic to Australia. Safflower is an annual herb from the Asteraceae family. It is bushy with a number of branches and its leaves are spiny (Singh & Nimbkar 2006).

20. Safflower has been commercially cultivated as a minor crop in Australia since the 1950s. The growing area of safflower has fluctuated from year to year, with a peak of 75,000 hectares in 1979, which is less than 0.5% of total cropping area in Australia. Current safflower planting regions are mainly in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (GRDC 2010).

21. Safflower is grown in Australia as an oilseed crop. After oil is extracted from the seeds for human consumption, the remaining meal can be used as stockfeed. Alternatively, whole safflower seeds are used as birdseed (GRDC 2010). The different cultivars of safflower that are grown are divided into two main classes. Linoleic safflower varieties have oil rich in lineoleic acid (70-75%), while oleic safflower varieties have oil with high levels of oleic acid (70-80%) (Singh & Nimbkar 2006).

22. The GM safflower lines in the proposed release were derived from four elite oleic safflower cultivars. The identities of the parent cultivars have been declared confidential commercial information (CCI). The confidential information was made available to the prescribed experts and agencies that were consulted on the RARMP for this application.

23. Safflower is generally planted in the winter or early spring in Australia. Safflower has a fairly high water requirement but does not tolerate waterlogging, as this encourages development of Alternaria or Phytophthora fungal diseases. Safflower seedlings can be damaged or killed by frosts below -4°C during early growth, and mean daily temperatures above 26°C during flowering and maturation reduce yield. Safflower is fairly slow-growing with a period of 18-31 weeks between sowing and maturity, depending on cultivar, sowing time and weather conditions (GRDC 2010).

24. Safflower is either self-pollinated or insect pollinated; safflower pollen is not transported by wind. The most important species for insect-mediated pollination are bees. Outcrossing rates between adjacent safflower plants range between 0-59% (Singh & Nimbkar 2006). Long distance outcrossing between safflower plants has been reported to occur at a rate of 0.01% at a distance of 100 m or not at all when plots were separated by 300 m (Mcpherson et al. 2009a). The OECD Seed Scheme for Varietal Certification, which applies in Australia and many other countries, requires that crops of certified safflower seed be grown with an exclusion distance of 200 m from other safflower crops, and that basic safflower seed (the source for certified seed crops) be grown with an exclusion distance of 400 m (OECD 2013).

25. Safflower reproduces by seeds, which are smooth and fairly large, weighing approximately 40 mg each (GRDC 2010). The seed heads are highly resistant to shattering. Safflower seeds have very low dormancy and ripe seeds may germinate in the head following rainfall. Over 60% of seeds that fall during harvest are reported to germinate within eight days. Viable safflower seed persistence in the seed bank is less than two years at the soil surface and less than one year if the seeds are buried in the soil either at standard planting depth (2 cm) or significantly deeper (15 cm) (Mcpherson et al. 2009b).

26. Animal predation of safflower is limited due to its spiny nature. Bird predation of safflower seed occurs (GRDC 2010). Safflower seeds that have passed through bird digestive systems are no longer viable (Cummings et al. 2008).

27. Safflower plants are not known to produce toxins. Rare cases of allergic reactions to safflower have been reported (Compes et al. 2006).