1.In paragraph 3 of decision VIII/19 B the Conference of the Parties (COP) requested the Executive Secretary to collect and collate existing information, including peer-reviewed published literature, in order to allow the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to consider and assess the potential environmental, cultural, and socio-economic impacts of genetically modified trees on the conservation and sustainable use of forest biological diversity, and to report to the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. In order to facilitate the collation of information on the potential environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts of genetically modified trees, the Secretariat distributed, through notification 2006-027 of 4 May 2006, a questionnaire to Parties and relevant organizations inviting them to provide information.
2. Accordingly, the Executive Secretary is circulating herewith, for the information of participants of the thirteenth session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, a compilation of views received in response to the questionnaire.
3. The submissions are reproduced in the form and the language in which they were received by the Secretariat and without annexes.
SUBMISSIONS FROM PARTIES AND OTHER GOVERNMENTS 4
CZECH REPUBLIC 18
EUROPEAN COMMUNITY 21
NEW ZEALAND 45
ST-VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES 69
UNITED KINGDOM 81
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 82
SUBMISSIONS FROM ORGANIZATIONS 86
BRAZILIAN BIOSAFETY ASSOCIATION 86
BRAZILIAN SOCIETY OF PLANT BREEDING 87
DUKE UNIVERSITY 89
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, COLLEGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND FORESTRY 92
ENSIS GENETICS 97
FORESTRY SCIENCE AND RESEARCH INSTITUTE 100
GE FREE NELSON 105
GENETIC FOUNDATIONS 106
GLOBAL FOREST COALLITION 107
GOLDAMER CONSULTING 108
GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL 109
HAMBURG UNIVERSITY, INSTITUTE FOR FOREST GENETICS AND FOREST TREE BREEDING 123
INSTITUTE FOR FOREST BIOTECHNOLOGY 126
INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE TECNOLOGIA AGROPECURIA 127
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF FOREST RESEARCH ORGANIZATIONS 128
OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY 129
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK 134
UNITED STATES COUNCIL FOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS 135
1. Does your country have any plantations, either commercial or experimental, of genetically modified trees? No. GM trees are not grown commercially in timber plantations in Australia and there are no GM forest trees in field trials. GM research on trees in Australia is all “contained research”, i.e., undertaken in laboratories under certified and controlled conditions without any release to the outside.
If yes, please answer all remaining questions.
If no, please state the reasons why:
(i) The economic rationale for investing in GM forest trees for commercial application in Australia is not clear at present. Long-term risk assessment may entail high up-front costs and as yet there are no generally accepted protocols for assessing the risks associated with new GM tree varieties.
(ii) The two main Australian commercial plantation species, Eucalyptus globulus and E. nitens, are technically very difficult to genetically transform and clone. These species, other eucalypts, pines and pine hybrids are all conventionally bred.
(ii) Conventional breeding of forest trees is currently cost effective for producing the relatively large number of different varieties of trees tailored for each of the wide range of soils and climates found in Australia, including for commercial plantations, farm forestry and salinity mitigation.
2. Has your country developed any platform/discussion forum/national committee etc. dealing with genetically modified trees? Please refer to answer 3 below.
If yes, please answer the remaining questions.
If no, please state the reason why:
3. Does your country have any guidelines or regulations for minimizing the impacts of genetically modified trees for scientific and/or commercial purposes? In Australia, dealings with GM organisms, including trees, are regulated by the Gene Technology Regulator (the Regulator) supported by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) located in the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging. The role of the Regulator is to protect human health and safety and the environment by identifying and managing risks posed by the use of gene technology. The Regulator liaises with other regulatory agencies, including Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to coordinate the approval of GM products for use and sale.
Australia’s strong national regulatory regime is underpinned by the Gene Technology Act (Cth) 2000 (the Act), that has been in force since 21 June 2001. Associated with administration of the Act are Gene Technology Regulations (Cth) 2001 and a Gene Technology Ministerial Council (GTMC).
The Regulator and the GTMC receive advice on request from the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee (GTTAC), Gene Technology Community Consultative Committee (GTCCC) and the Gene Technology Ethics Committee (GTEC). GTTAC provides scientific and technical advice. The other two committees advise on matters of general concern and ethical issues in relation to GMOs and gene technology.
An independent review of the Gene Technology Act was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 27 April 2006. The Act was found to be rigorous, has a high level of transparency, is appropriate and is being applied effectively.
Detailed information is available on the Regulator’s web site (http://www.ogtr.gov.au/index.htm). The Regulator has published a Risk Analysis Framework which describes the principles of risk analysis used to protect human health and safety, and the environment, in accordance with the Gene Technology Act. Economic and other issues were intentionally excluded from the scope of risk assessments under the Act.
If yes, please list them according to the categories below: If no, please explain the reason why here:
Environmental impacts of genetically modified trees (Example: effects on native ecosystems, use of herbicide)
Cultural impacts of genetically modified trees (Example: positive or negative impacts on indigenous and local communities and their traditional knowledge)
Socio-economic impacts of genetically modified trees (Example: positive or negative effects on quantity, quality and economic value of forest production; positive or negative impacts on livelihoods of communities)