Three new GM products up for Australian approval

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 8th April 2010

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has announced that it is considering approving two Monsanto genetically modified grains and a DSM Food Specialties protein engineered enzyme for Australian consumption.

Monsanto Australia has requested approval for an insect-protected soybean line, MON 87701, and a drought-tolerant corn, MON 87460. FSANZ has found no safety concerns with the consumption of food obtained from these two grains.

The drought-tolerant corn is specifically designed for North American rather than Australian conditions, and while the grain won’t be grown here, approval would mean that imported corn products could contain ingredients derived from this variety. Products derived from MON87460 corn may include flour, starch products, breakfast cereals and high fructose corn syrup. Corn is also widely used as a feed for domestic livestock.

The soybean variety is protected from a variety of caterpillars and moth larvae by the addition of a gene from a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis. The variety will be grown in South America, and will most likely arrive on Australian shelves as soybean oil, or possibly as specialty products such as soymilk, tofu, miso, soy sauce, flour, protein concentrate and dietary supplements. Any product containing the novel DNA will be labelled as a GM food.

At the same time, FSANZ has assessed the enzyme lipase, produced by DSM Food Specialties from a GM strain of Aspergillus niger, which is used in bakery applications to enhance the gas holding capacity of bread dough and stability of dough on proofing. In products where no trace of this processing aid remains, no GM labelling is required. If any of the GM proteins remain in the finished product, it must be labelled as genetically modified.

All three applications are expected to be approved, with FSANZ inviting comment from the community and interested parties to the Food Standards website. Documentation of the approvals process is available for the MON 87701 soybean, MON 87460 corn and DSM lipase is also available from the FSANZ website.