October 2013

What does this licence allow?

The Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries has received approval for a limited and controlled release (field trial) of wheat plants that have been genetically modified for improved yield. The field trial may take place over two growing seasons between November 2013 and March 2016. The GM wheat may be grown on one site near Horsham, Victoria, on a maximum area of 2 hectares (ha) per season.

What is the purpose of the trial?

The purpose of the field trial is to assess the effect of the genetic modifications on yield under field conditions. The GM wheat would not be permitted to enter human food or animal feed.

How has the GM wheat been modified?

The GM wheat plants have been modified by introduction of different combinations of 2 plant genes involved in plant sugar biosynthesis and a gene from a common soil bacterium involved in plant hormone biosynthesis. These modifications are expected to improve yield of the wheat plants particularly under drought conditions. Additionally, the plants contain a gene conferring herbicide tolerance which was used to select genetically modified plant cells and plants during initial development of the GM plants in the laboratory.

What controls are proposed for this release?

The Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) for this application concluded that the proposed release poses negligible risks to people or the environment. A range of licence conditions will limit the size, location and duration of the release, as well as restrict the spread and persistence of the GM wheat in the environment and the gene flow of the introduced genetic material to wheat crops and related species. Control measures include ensuring no wheat crops or related species are allowed to flower within 200m of the GMO; cleaning of the trial site and any other areas where GM material may be present after harvest; post-harvest monitoring for, and destruction of any GMOs for at least 2 years and until the Regulator is satisfied that no GMOs remain at the trial site; and secure transport and storage of the GM plant materials.

Want more information?

A number of documents relating to this decision are available on the DIR 122 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.

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