News, Research and Development

Australian government approves release of QUT-developed GM Cavendish banana

The Australian Government has issued QUT a licence to commercially release QCAV-4, a genetically modified (GM) variety of Cavendish banana designed to help save the world’s Cavendish banana production.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has also notified the Food Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) that it has approved QCAV-4 as suitable for human consumption.

The QCAV-4 banana is the world’s first GM banana to be approved for commercial production and also the first Australian GM fruit approved for growing in Australia. QCAV-4 offers a potential safety net against the devastating Panama Disease tropical race 4 (TR4) which threatens the global US$20 billion banana industry.

Panama Disease TR4 has already crippled Cavendish banana production in Asia, has started to take a foothold in South America and occurs in Australia in the Northern Territory and North Queensland.

QUT vice-chancellor professor Margaret Sheil said, “It has been 20 years since QUT researchers received an Australian Research Council grant to search for potential TR4 resistance genes.”

“This is a wonderful example of fundamental research progressing through a commercialisation journey into a tangible outcome. QUT, along with our wonderful funders and partners, has been supporting the research for two decades so it’s fantastic to reach this milestone,” said Sheil.

QCAV-4 is a Cavendish Grand Nain banana that has been bioengineered with a single banana resistance gene, RGA2, from the wild, south-east Asian banana, Musa acuminata ssp malaccensis. Cavendish bananas already contain the RGA2 gene, but it is dormant.

QUT distinguished professor James Dale said, “We welcome this decision as it’s a very important step towards building a safety net for the world’s Cavendish bananas from TR4 which has impacted many parts of the world already.”

There are no plans to grow or sell QCAV-4 bananas to consumers in Australia at this time.

Send this to a friend