Australia has confirmed that routine testing by the
ABB Grain Ltd has identified
trace levels of approved GM material in a small consignment of
canola from Victoria.
Ms Susie O'Neill, General
Manager of the BioScience Division of Bayer CropScience
confirmed the GM material identified is the approved event Topas
19/2, and added it is not a safety issue.
"The safety of Topas 19/2 has
been extensively reviewed and approved by many regulatory
authorities around the world including Australia, China,
European Union and Japan.
"In Australia, the Federal
Regulators, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the
Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) have approved
this GM material as being as safe as conventional canola for
food, humans and the environment," said Ms O'Neill.
Major Australian grain
marketers have indicated that their ability to meet
international customer and regulatory standards should be
unchanged by this finding.
The GM material used in Bayer
CropScience's current canola research and innovation program was
not detected. The Victorian Government have acknowledged that
there has been no breach of the current exemption for GM trials
Ms O'Neill said: "The traces of
the GM material detected were about ten times below the
reportable level in grains or about one hundred times below the
level required for food labelling generally for GMO's in
"Trace levels of GM material is
a reality in agricultural production systems around the world
where seeds are exchanged between countries," she said.
Ms O'Neill added that whilst
approved in Australia, the particular GM material detected has
not been used in Bayer CropScience's Australian GM canola
research and innovation program since 1998. Canola varieties
containing this gene however have a long history of safe use in
Managing Director of Bayer
Australia Limited, Mr Sam Howard, said Bayer CropScience is
cooperating with all parties to provide technical assistance and
expertise on this matter.
"As the global leader in the
canola hybrid seed business, Bayer CropScience remains fully
committed to its Australian research and innovation activities
for the canola crop," Mr Howard said.
What is an “event”?
- A GMO “event” occurs when
a gene is successfully inserted into a plant’s DNA.
What is the Topas 19/2
- Bayer CropScience
developed the Topas 19/2 event in the early 90s as part of
its research into finding better weed control options for
- Topas 19/2 is the
‘package’ of genetics which was included in the first
historic LibertyLink® Canadian canola varieties, such as:
HCN10, HCN92 and Innovator®.
- LibertyLink is the name
given to GM crops developed by Bayer CropScience that
confers tolerance to Liberty® herbicide
- The Topas 19/2 event
involves the pat gene (phosphinothricin acetyl transferase)
originating from a soil bacteria (Streptomyces
viridochromogenes) and confers tolerance to the herbicide
glufosinate-ammonium. The pat gene has been used as a marker
in a wide range of research in a variety of crops around the
- Bayer CropScience’s modern
InVigor® hybrid canola varieties contain the “bar”
(bialophos resistance) gene which also confers tolerance to
Liberty herbicide. A number of events containing the bar
gene have been commercialised in canola in North America,
and are approved in Australia.
How were the traces of the
approved GMO found in the Victorian consignment of canola?
- Routine testing by ABB
identified small traces of the approved GM
- ABB’s routine testing is
conducted by independent laboratories
- Bayer CropScience
recognises independent testing by grain marketers using
validated methods and protocols as part of their Quality
Current status of GM canola
- There is no
commercialisation of Bayer CropScience GM canola currently
in Australia due to GM crop moratoriums.
- Small scale research and
innovation trials, conducted under stringent conditions and
supervised by relevant regulators are continuing in Victoria
and South Australia. These are the same type of trials that
have been conducted in Australia for the past 8 years.
Liberty® and LibertyLink® are Registered Trademarks of Bayer
Related news release:
GM canola detected
in Victoria is as safe as conventional canola, says Australia's