FSANZ calls for comment on GM bananas

Tuesday, 26 September, 2023

FSANZ calls for comment on GM bananas

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is calling for comment on an application from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to permit food from a genetically modified (GM) banana.

Sandra Cuthbert, FSANZ CEO, said the banana line QCAV-4 has been genetically modified to provide resistance to the fungal disease Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), also known as Panama disease.

This is the first whole GM fruit assessed by FSANZ and, if approved, would also be a world-first approval for a GM banana.

Cuthbert said safety assessments were a key part of the approval process for all GM foods. The FSANZ assessment for the GM banana considered the specific genetic modification process, potential unintended changes, the nutrient content compared to a non-GM food of its type and any potential allergic or toxic effects in humans.

The FSANZ safety assessment found no potential public health and safety concerns.

If the application is approved, food derived from this GM banana would be permitted for sale in Australia and would need to be labelled as “genetically modified” to assist consumers in making informed choices about the food they purchase.

The applicant is also seeking a licence for the commercial cultivation of banana line QCAV-4 from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR). It has stated publicly that, if approved, there are no immediate plans to commercialise the GM banana because Panama disease is contained and being effectively managed within Australia. The GM banana will only be used as a backup should that situation change.

Submissions close at 6 pm (Canberra time) on 8 November 2023.

Image credit: iStock.com/Nikada

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