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GM canola trials

RURAL AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS AND TRANSPORT

Senator SIEWERT-Where would I go to find out accurately what percentage of weeding we had from GM canola? What percentage, through last year's GM crop, did we have of seeding outside the paddock?

Mr Reading-Seeds outside-

Senator SIEWERT-Seeding outside. Volunteers and contamination of other crops.

Mr Reading-I see what you mean. We are doing a number of trials to evaluate that process.

Mr Perrett-That is pollen drift.

Mr Reading-Pollen drift and things like that. It has been done previously with another gene, the imidazolinone gene. That was done in the 1990s, and it showed there was basically very little in terms of movement, cross-pollination, outside the area it was grown. What we are doing-and it is a three-year
process-in evaluating that in terms of GM canola is looking at it in terms of, first, volunteers outside and, second, potential flow into wild species-radishes and things like that-just to make sure that the data we generate in Australia is consistent with data from overseas et cetera.

Senator SIEWERT-How much was there from the crop from last year?

Mr Reading-In terms of volunteers?

Senator SIEWERT-Yes.

Mr Reading-I do not know.

Mr Perrett-I am aware there was one instance where there it was reported that there were some volunteer plants growing on a roadside. It is quite unknown how they got there or what happened, that I am aware of.

Senator SIEWERT-So you are doing that work?

Mr Reading-We are doing the evaluation, yes, that is correct.

Senator SIEWERT-Was any evaluation done from last year's crop?

Mr Perrett-Looking at volunteers?

Senator SIEWERT-Yes.

Mr Perrett-What we are doing is going through a system at the moment, a project where we are looking at those growers of GM canola and their neighbours that are not growers of GM canola. We are looking at the impacts and at some of the issues surrounding the crop, whether they are positive or negative, for both parties.
The report for that work has been commissioned. It has not yet been completed, though. Maybe that will go part of the way to answering some of the questions you have, Senator Siewert.

Senator SIEWERT-So in October, when I ask it, the first year of that study will have been reported on?

Mr Perrett-That information will be publicly available as soon as that report is completed. We will make it available for all growers and send it forward to the Senate.

Senator SIEWERT-Okay. What other commercial GM crops are you aware of that are currently being grown in Australia?

Mr Perrett-The most significant crop in Australia is GM cotton.

Senator SIEWERT-Sorry, besides that.

Mr Perrett-GM canola. I am unaware of the commercial production of any other GM crops in Australia.

Mr Reading-There is one. I think there is a GM carnation.

Senator SIEWERT-No grains?

Mr Reading-No.

Senator SIEWERT-What other commercial grains are grown globally?

Mr Perrett-Soy, corn, cotton and granola would be the main ones.

Senator SIEWERT-Cereals?

Mr Perrett-I am unaware of any commercially grown cereals. Certainly there is trial work going on around the world.

Mr Reading-There is trial work, particularly in two areas. There has been some work advanced in terms of herbicide resistance. There has been a lot of work done in relation to a very important disease, which I think is fusarium head blight, in Europe. There is preliminary work now going on in terms of the nitrogen use efficiency gene which is looking very promising, particularly as we are going into a carbon environment et cetera, and there is some preliminary work going on in water use efficiency, but that is in the development stage at this time.

Senator SIEWERT-Thank you.

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