8. Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd (Bayer) proposes to release up to 11 varieties of GM cotton, which have been genetically modified (GM) for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance, into the environment under limited and controlled conditions.

9. The dealings involved in the proposed intentional release would include:

    • conducting experiments with the GMOs
    • importing the GMOs
    • breeding the GMOs
    • propagating, growing, raising or culturing the GMOs
    • transporting the GMOs
    • disposing of the GMOs
    • possession, supply or use of the GMOs for the purposes of any of the above.
10. These dealings are detailed further throughout the remainder of the current Chapter.

11. Details of the genes and the specific genetic elements (coding and regulatory sequences) introduced into the GMOs have been declared Confidential Commercial Information (CCI) under section 185 of the Act. The confidential information was made available to the prescribed experts and agencies that were consulted on the RARMP for this application.

3.1 The proposed activities

12. The applicant has stated that the purpose of the trial is to:
    • assess the agronomic performance of the GM cotton varieties
    • produce seed for use in further studies or releases (subject to additional approvals).
13. Part of the trial may assess the efficacy of insecticidal proteins against the target pest, Helicoverpa armigera (cotton bollworm), under Australian conditions. At the start of flowering, Helicoverpa armigera larvae will be introduced into mini-cages enclosing the crop. After completion of bioassays and prior to seed harvest the insects will be destroyed inside the mini-cages.

3.2 The proposed limits of the dealings (size, locations and duration)

14. The applicant proposes to limit the release to six sites per year between May 2012 and May 2015, including summer plantings in the LGAs of Narrabri, NSW, and Central Highlands, Qld, and summer and winter plantings in the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberly, WA. The maximum area of plantings would be 1 ha per site in the first year and 6 ha per site in the second and third years, giving a maximum cumulative area of 78 ha. The applicant proposes to limit access to the field sites to trained and authorised personnel.

3.3 The proposed controls to restrict the spread and persistence of the GMOs and their genetic material in the environment

15. The applicant has proposed a number of controls to restrict the spread and persistence of the GM cotton varieties and the introduced genetic material in the environment including:
    • locating trial sites at least 50 m away from natural waterways
    • separating trial sites from other cotton crops by a 100 m monitoring zone and a 3 km isolation zone or with a 20 m pollen trap of non-GM or commercially released GM cotton
    • cleaning all planting and harvesting equipment used at field planting sites of GM material
    • harvesting and ginning cotton from the trial separately to other cotton
    • cultivating field planting sites after harvest to encourage decomposition or germination of remaining seed
    • post-harvest monitoring and destroying any volunteer cotton at field planting sites for at least 12 months
    • destroying all plant material from the trial not required for testing or future trials
    • transporting the GMOs in accordance with the Regulator’s guidelines
    • not allowing GM plant material or products to be used for human food or animal feed.
16. These controls, and the limits outlined in Section 3.2, have been taken into account in establishing the risk assessment context (this chapter), and their suitability for containing the proposed release is evaluated in Chapter 3, Section 3.1.1.