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New plant breeding techniques workshops

(June 2014)

Foods produced from plants developed using new plant breeding techniques are close to commercialisation and food regulators around the world, including FSANZ, must decide whether they are subject to regulation as genetically modified (GM) foods.

To enhance our understanding of the techniques and the food products that might come from them, FSANZ held technical workshops in 2012 and 2013 and invited scientific experts to participate. Scientific views were also sought on whether foods derived from plants developed using the new techniques should be regarded as GM food, or whether they are more like conventional food.

FSANZ may have regard to the scientific conclusions from these workshops when considering applications to amend Standard 1.5.2 – Food produced using Gene Technology. However it is important that the conclusions are read with the disclaimer that appears in the workshop reports, available at the links below.

2013 workshop

At this workshop, participants considered six new plant breeding techniques. These were: accelerated breeding following induction of early flowering; four targeted mutagenesis techniques not discussed in the first workshop; and Agro-infiltration (see the full report for a description of each technique).
 
Participants concluded:
  • food produced from plants developed using accelerated breeding following induction of early flowering would be similar to food produced using a conventional plant breeding approach and should not be regarded as GM food
  • where targeted mutagenic techniques are used to introduce small, site-specific mutations involving only one or a few nucleotides, and any transgenes have been segregated away from the final food producing lines, derived food products would be similar to food produced using traditional mutagenic techniques and should not be regarded as GM food
  • when targeted mutagenic techniques are used to insert new genes, they are equivalent to transgenesis and, as such, any food products should be regarded as GM
  • food products derived from plants using the technique of Agro-infiltration will be purified proteins, and the plants in which they are produced will likely not themselves be used as food. Whether the purified protein products are regarded as GM foods would depend on their use and whether the plants from which they are derived are themselves GM.

Read the full 2013 workshop report​​

2012 workshop

This workshop focused on six new plant breeding techniques including cisgenesis/ intragenesis; GM rootstock grafting; oligo-directed mutagenesis; reverse breeding, zinc-finger nuclease technology; and a proprietary hybrid production technique known as seed production technology (see the full report for a description of each technique).

Participants concluded:
  • food produced using cisgenesis/ intragenesis would be similar to food produced using standard transgenic techniques and should therefore be regarded as GM food
  • food produced using zinc-finger nuclease technology (where it is used for targeted gene addition or replacement) would be similar to food produced using standard transgenic techniques and should therefore be regarded as GM food
  • food produced using GM rootstock grafting may contain novel GM material and/or have altered characteristics as a result of the genetic modification to the rootstock and should therefore be regarded as GM food
  • food produced using oligo-directed mutagenesis and zinc-finger nuclease technology, where the techniques are used to introduce small, site-specific mutations involving only one or a few nucleotides, would be similar to food produced using traditional mutagenic techniques and should therefore not be regarded as GM food
  • food produced using seed production technology should not be regarded as GM food, as a genetic separation exists between an early GM ancestor and the non-GM parents of the final food-producing line, which does not contain the genetic modification
  • firm conclusions could not be reached for reverse breeding because of a lack of detailed technical information. However commercial applications using this technique are not expected in the immediate future
  • the scientific experts also made a number of suggestions about the safety assessment of foods produced using cisgenesis/intragenesis and GM rootstock grafting. We are in the process of evaluating these suggestions to see if any changes to our safety assessment approach are warranted for these types of GM foods.

Read the full 2012 workshop report

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