February 17, 2015
Issue of licence DIR 131 to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for a field trial of GM safflower
On 13 November 2014, the Gene Technology Regulator invited submissions on the consultation version of the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) for licence application DIR 131 from CSIRO.
The Regulator has now issued a licence in respect of application DIR 131, authorising the limited and controlled release (field trial) of safflower lines that have been genetically modified (GM) for altered oil composition in the seed.
The release is authorised to take place between February 2015 and August 2019 at up to 60 sites in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, ACT and Western Australia. The maximum cumulative planting area of the trial is 850 hectares over the 4 seasons.
The primary purpose of the field trial is to evaluate the oil content and agronomic performance of GM safflower under field conditions in various regions around Australia, and provide enough extracted oil for product development and testing in industrial processes. The GM safflower is not permitted for use in human food or animal feed.
The decision to issue the licence was made after extensive consultation on the RARMP with the public, State and Territory governments, Australian Government agencies, the Minister for the Environment, the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee and relevant local councils, as required by the Gene Technology Act 2000 and the corresponding State and Territory legislation.
Issues relating to the health and safety of people and the protection of the environment raised during the consultation process were considered in the context of current scientific information in reaching the conclusions set out in the finalised RARMP and in making the decision to issue the licence.
The finalised RARMP concludes that this limited and controlled release poses negligible risks to people and the environment. Licence conditions have been imposed to restrict spread and persistence of the GMOs and their genetic material in the environment and to limit the release in size, locations and duration, as these were important considerations in the evaluation process.
Appendix A of the RARMP summarises the advice received from prescribed experts, agencies and authorities, and indicates how issues raised relating to risks to human health and safety or the environment were considered in the document. Three submissions were received from the public on the consultation RARMP and the issues raised, and their consideration, are summarised in Appendix B of the RARMP.
A Summary and the finalised RARMP, together with a set of Questions and Answers on this decision and a copy of the licence, can be obtained on-line from the DIR 131 page of the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator’s website or requested via the contacts detailed below.
DIR 131 - Notification of decision on genetically modified safflower field trial – posted 17 February 2015 (PDF 46 KB)
DIR 131 - Questions and Answers (PDF 245 KB)
DIR 131 - Summary of the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) (PDF 99 KB)
DIR 131 - Full Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) (PDF 475 KB)
DIR 131 - GM safflower field trial licence conditions (PDF 166 KB)
Risk Analysis Framework for Licence Applications to the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (2013)
The Biology of Carthamus tinctorius L. (safflower)