Submissions invited on GM canola

By Nichola Murphy
Monday, 18 September, 2017

Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with health benefits and are most commonly found in wild fish that consume algae containing these healthy oils. However, with an increasing demand for these fatty acids, it is important that an alternative solution is found.

CSIRO and Nuseed Pty Ltd have applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) requesting that the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code is changed to permit food from a genetically modified (GM) canola line that produces an omega-3 fatty acid, and submissions are invited on this application.

The line was modified to produce the long chain fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the seed. DHA impacts physiological functions, such as regulating inflammation and immune function, and cardiovascular function.

“The applicant has stated that this canola line could provide an alternate source of DHA for food manufacturers in a range of products,” said FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Mark Booth. “FSANZ conducted a thorough safety assessment of the canola line, which included a nutrition risk assessment and dietary exposure assessment and has concluded there are no public health and safety concerns relating to this canola line.”

FSANZ suggested that food derived from DHA canola was equally as safe as food from regular canola sources. Field trials conducted in Australia since 2014 and Canada since 2016 have produced no evidence to suggest human health or safety has been compromised by this variation.

Since this would be GM, existing labelling requirements would apply to food derived from DHA canola. Whole seeds, canola oil and meal from DHA canola would therefore display the ‘genetically modified’ statement, and this also applies to unpackaged food products. However, food intended for immediate consumption, such as restaurants and vending machines, are exempt.

All FSANZ decisions on applications are notified to ministers responsible for food regulation who can decide to ask for a review or agree that the standard should become law. Submissions close on 26 October 2017.

Information reproduced with the permission of Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

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