Australia mulls CSIRO GM cotton tests
The Australian government research body, the CSIRO, has applied to the Australian Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) to conduct small-scale field tests of genetically modified cotton with improved fibre quality. The CSIRO plans to test up to 30 cotton lines containing single inserted genes to increase fibre length or fineness by modifying the activity of pectin methylesterase or galacturonyltransferase enzymes. Up to five lines have been modified for shorter fibre length using a partial gene to reduce pectin methylesterase activity. The tests would be conducted at the Australian Cotton Research Institute (Narrabri, New South Wales) on up to 1 ha per year between October 2015 and May 2018. The OGTR expects to issue a risk assessment and management plan in June.