NEWS GM banana trial for NT
A SIX-hectare plot of land in Litchfield Shire could be the scene for the development of a new genetically modified type of disease resistant banana.
Researchers from Queensland University of Technology want to use the site to trial lines of fruit resistant to fungal disease fusarium wilt. It’s expected the trial will take place 20172022.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson yesterday spoke out about the trial, saying there were better ways to protect the banana and farmers.
“Rather than genetically mess with our natural food products to prevent disease, let’s continue to protect farmers from imported fruit and vegetables that risk destroying our agricultural industry,’’ Senator Hanson said.
“I don’t share the same confidence in GM crops as some others. The verdict is still out on the long term health impacts, if any, on consumers.”
According the Federal Government’s Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, risks to the health and safety of people or the environment associated with trial are “negligible”.
“Credible pathways to potential harm that were considered included exposure of people or animals to the GM plant material, increased potential for spread and persistence of the GMOs, and transfer of the introduced genetic material to sexually compatible plants,” it said in a statement..
“Potential harms associated with these pathways included toxicity or allergenicity to people, toxicity to other desirable organisms, and environmental harms due to weediness.”
The risk of those potential h a rm s eventuating were deemed negligible “because the bananas will not be used for human food or animal feed, and the proposed limits and controls effectively contain the GMOs and their genetic material and minimise exposure”. The trial site will be isolated from other banana crops, and all plants will be destroyed at the end of the trial. The Territory’s banana industry was brought to its knees in 2014 by fungal disease banana freckle. Most of the Top End’s banana plants were destroyed in an effort to contain the disease.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he supported the research.
“Ultimately, the QUT in partnership with industry, makes its own determination on the commercial viability of any product should it prove viable and be approved by Australia’s strict regulatory approval bodies and the Gene Technology Regulator,’’ he
said. HIDDEN in the scrub of the Crocodylus Park lagoon, 3m saltie Blonde lay the first clutch of eggs for the season.
Handler Tate Chambers led Kathleen Nettlefold and Tony Spain to the nest to collect the 58 eggs early yesterday.
As the trio worked to extract the delicate eggs mother Blonde acted to protect her clutch.
Mr Chambers said the croc climbed the steep bank to ward off the handlers.
He said the act wasn’t one of pure aggression, but one to keep her young safe.
He said the breeding season ran from October to April and rainfall often encouraged females to lay.
The eggs are collected and taken to the hatchery where they are incubated for three months.
It was Ms Nettlefold’s first egg collection.
She said it was exciting to climb up the bank and peer into the nest.
Crocodylus Park croc handlers, Tate Chambers and Tony Spain keep guard as Kathleen Nettlefold cautiously collects croc eggs