Panama disease-resistant, genetically modified variety is being assessed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has called for comment on an application from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to permit food from a disease-resistant genetically modified (GM) banana.

FSANZ chief executive Dr Sandra Cuthbert said banana line QCAV-4 was genetically modified to provide resistance to the fungal disease Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4) also known as Panama disease. 

“This is the first whole GM fruit assessed by FSANZ and, if approved, would also be a world-first approval for a GM banana,” Cuthbert said.

Cuthbert said safety assessments were a key part of the approval process for all GM foods. 

“The FSANZ assessment for the GM banana considered the specific genetic modification process, potential unintended changes, the nutrient content compared to a non-GM food of its type and any potential allergic or toxic effects in humans,” she said.

“Our safety assessment found no potential public health and safety concerns. The GM banana is as safe as non-GM banana varieties.”

Cuthbert said if the application was approved, food derived from this GM banana would be permitted for sale in Australia, including as fresh fruit, dried or frozen banana or banana pulp.

“Food from this banana line would need to be labelled as ‘genetically modified’ so consumers can make informed choices about the food they eat,” she noted.

“Most importantly, consumers can be assured all approved GM food has gone through vigorous scientific assessment to ensure it is safe.”

Submissions close at 6pm (Canberra time) 8 November 2023.