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Proposal P1055 – Definitions for gene technology and new breeding techniques

​​​​​​Last updated: 8 December 2021

P1055 is a proposal to amend the definitions for 'food produced using gene technology' and 'gene technology' in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code).

These definitions determine what foods are classed as genetically modified (GM) food under the Code. Currently, all GM food available for sale in Australia and New Zealand must have been assessed for safety by FSANZ and be expressly permitted and listed in relevant Code schedules.

FSANZ is proposing to update the definitions to make them clearer and better able to accommodate food produced by existing, emerging and future genetic technologies. 

First public call for submissions - now closed

In the first of two rounds of public consultation, FSANZ invited interested parties to comment on its proposed approach to:

  • revise and expand the process-based definition for 'gene technology' to capture all methods for genetic modification other than conventional breeding; and
  • revise the definition for 'food produced using gene technology' to include specific product-based criteria for excluding certain foods from pre-market safety assessment and approval as GM food. Foods that do not meet all relevant exclusion criteria would still require an application to FSANZ.

The consultation period for the first call for submissions was for 8 weeks and closed on 3 December 2021. All submissions received during the submission period will be considered as part of our ongoing assessment. 

To support the consultation, we also hosted a public webinar to take stakeholders through the proposal and answer questions.  The webinar recording is available on our webinar page

FSANZ will continue to engage with key stakeholders throughout the proposal process, including by undertaking a second public consultation in 2022.

We will continue to update our website with further information as this work progresses.

First call for submissions - consultation documents

Call for submissions – 7 October 2021(PDF 290 kb) (Word 178 kb)​

Supporting document 1 - Safety Assessment  (PDF 729 kb) (Word 1.73 mb)

Supporting document 2 - Safety Assessment Plain English Summary  (PDF 109 kb) (Word 307 kb)

Supporting document 3 - Regulatory approaches and definitions (PDF 171 kb) (Word 87.6 kb)​

​​Consumer research on new breeding techniques

To supplement the information gained through the consultation process, FSANZ commissioned two pieces of work on consumer attitudes towards NBTs:

  1.  A systematic literature review on consumers’ awareness, knowledge, risk perceptions and behaviours in relation to the use of NBTs, including genome editing, for food production. The review also incorporates insights from the literature on consumer attitudes towards genetic modification more broadly and on the public understanding of science.
  2. New empirical research using focus groups to investigate consumer awareness, knowledge, and attitudes to NBTs in Australia and New Zealand. This study also explored public understanding of communication materials as well as the relationship between regulatory oversight and consumer trust in the food supply. The results from this work supplement the predominantly international studies identified through the above literature review.

The outcomes of the literature review and focus group research provide valuable context to inform our work on P1055 and will be used to better target our communication and education material.​

Consumer Responses to the Use of NBTs in the Production of Food: A Systematic Literature Review (PDF 3.53 MB)

Focus groups on consumers' responses to the use of New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) in food production​(PDF 1.41 MB)​

Background

FSANZ commenced this proposal in early 2020 following completion of the Review of food derived using new breeding techniques.

The review examined how the Code applies to food produced using new breeding techniques (NBTs), diverse genetic modification methods that have been developed over the last decade or so. It recommended amending the Code definitions for 'food produced using gene technology' and 'gene technology' after finding they lack clarity and are not fit for purpose, resulting in uncertainty about assessment and approval requirements for NBT foods. The review also identified the need to regulate NBT foods in a manner that matches the risk they pose. 

In its assessment of P1055, FSANZ has considered what amendments to the definitions are necessary to:

  • make them clearer and better able to accommodate food produced by existing, emerging and future genetic technologies, and
  • ensure NBT foods are regulated in a manner that matches the risk they pose.

Expert Advisory Group

FSANZ has established an Expert Advisory Group provide expert technical advice to inform our assessment of this proposal.

Members

  • Dr Goetz Laible – AgResearch, New Zealand
  • Associate Prof. Rob Lanfear – Australian National University, Australia
  • Prof. Brian Priestly – Monash University, Australia
  • Prof. Joanna Putterill – The University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Dr Sally Symes – Victorian Dept. of Health & Human Services, Australia
  • Dr Mark Tizard – CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness Australia​

More information

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