Genetically modified fruit a fallback as disease emerges

In a world-first Australian genetically-modified bananas have been approved for human consumption.
Lead researcher professor James Dale said it was just the beginning.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved the genetically modified bananas designed by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology after months of deliberation.
The bananas are designed to be resistant to Panama Disease which is an incurable fungus that has plagued the global industry.
Australian Banana Growers chair Leon Collins, a grower in the Tully and Lakeland area of Queensland, said Panama Disease was a “huge concern” for the industry.
“While we have seen examples of banana growers continuing to farm successfully… it’s another challenge on top of what can already be a very tough business,” Mr Collins said.
“Australia’s success in containing this disease to one region… is hugely commendable.
“But we’re essentially buying time until we have a alternative variety and viable pathways for those growers affected.”
The disease has been found in the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland.
Mr Collins said while the industry was keeping an eye on the disease Australian growers were “well and truly capable of meeting consumer demands without genetically modified bananas at this time”.
The banana variant is not currently being grown commercially in Australia.
Future growth
Lead research professor James Dale said the banana variant was a “safety net” for Australian banana farmers should the disease spread further.
“The idea is if, if the disease really gets going, we can still grow cavendish [bananas],” he said.
Professor Dale said his work was only the beginning of genetically modified foods in Australia.

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