June 2014

What does this licence allow?

Monsanto Australia Ltd has received approval for the commercial release of two types of genetically modified (GM) cotton: Bollgard® III cotton, modified for insect resistance; and Bollgard® III x Roundup Ready Flex® cotton, modified for both insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.

The GM cottons and their products can enter general commerce, including use in human food and animal feed. Food Standards Australia New Zealand has approved the use in food of material derived from these GM cottons. In addition, cultivation of these GM insect resistant cottons must comply with conditions imposed by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, including an approved insect resistance management plan.

Where will this cotton be grown?

The GM cotton may be grown anywhere in Australia, subject to restrictions in some Australian States and Territories for marketing reasons. The main cotton growing areas of Australia are in central to northern New South Wales and southern to central Queensland. Cotton is also grown on a trial basis in north western Victoria, northern Queensland and northern Western Australia.

How has the GM cotton been modified?

Bollgard® III cotton contains three genes, derived from a common soil bacterium (known as Bt), which produce proteins toxic to certain insects. The proteins protect the GM cottons from their major caterpillar pests.

Bollgard®III x Roundup Ready Flex® cotton additionally contains a gene from another soil bacterium, which confers herbicide tolerance. This gene enables glyphosate herbicide to be used for weed control in the GM cotton crop.

The GM cottons have been produced by conventional breeding between other GM cottons: Bollgard® II and Roundup Ready Flex® cottons, both of which have been commercially grown for a number of years in Australia, and VIP3A cotton, which has been grown in Australian field trials.

How is this GM cotton different from existing commercial GM cotton?

Almost all cotton currently grown in Australia is genetically modified. Over 80% of the Australian cotton crop is either Bollgard® II cotton or Bollgard® II x Roundup Ready Flex® cotton. These commercial GM cottons contain two introduced insecticidal genes, whereas Bollgard® III contains one additional introduced insecticidal gene. Combining three different insecticidal genes is expected to reduce the chance of insect pests developing resistance.

What controls have been imposed for this GM cotton?

The licence is for an ongoing commercial release. The Regulator has not imposed any specific measures to manage risk, as the risk assessment concluded that this release of GM cotton poses negligible risks to the health and safety of people or the environment. However, general conditions have been imposed to ensure that there is ongoing oversight of the release.

Want more information?

A number of documents relating to this decision are available on the DIR 124 page of the OGTR website or via Freecall 1800 181 030. These documents include the finalised RARMP, a summary of the RARMP and the licence.