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GM crops on the cusp


Australia's genetically modified organism watchdog this week confirmed it had received its first application to grow a GM crop.The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) said Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd had sought approval to plant up to 480 hectares of GM cotton in three Queensland shires, an Associated Press story reports. While GM cotton accounts for a third of Australia's cotton production, the application is the first to go through the OGTR approval process after its creation mid-year. Acting gene technology regulator Liz Cain said people wishing to comment on the application had to focus on specific concerns. "People will be asked to address their comments on risks to health and safety and to the environment, in line with the focus of the regulatory system," she said in a statement. The company wants to plant its cotton, genetically modified to be resistant to insects, in the Emerald, Bourke and Balonne shires at six separate sites.It already has trials underway in parts of NSW. Ms Cain said her organisation had already sought advice from state and territory departments and the affected local governments council.Commonwealth agencies and the Environment Department have also been sought for their opinion. . She said the views of the departments, and from private submissions, would all be incorporated into developing a risk assessment of the proposal.

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