Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has opened submissions into a request by Monsanto Australia (Monsanto) to market (but not cultivate) food based on a genetically modified soybean line, MON-87751. MON-87751 has been genetically engineered to express two proteins, which provide protection from feeding damage caused by particular insects. The GM soybean would be cultivated primarily in South America and imported into Australia.
Monsanto provided detailed evidence to FSANZ regarding the safety of MON-87751 as well as the composition of soybeans compared to a non-GM soybean (“A3555”). The major composition analysis focused on components such as fibre, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and antinutrients (compounds which limit absorption of minerals). The analysis revealed that MON-87751 contained significantly higher levels of protein, certain amino acids and phosphorus compared to A3555. There were significantly lower levels of vitamin E and raffinose (a trisaccharide antinutrient) in MON-87551 However, the levels of these products in MON-87751 were within ranges observed in historical literature. Monsanto therefore concluded equivalence between MON-87551 and A3555. Monsanto concluded that the introduction of food based on a MON-87551 soybean is unlikely to have much nutritional impact.
FSANZ has suggested that approval of MON-87551 would have minimal impact on consumers given the equivalence to natural soybean, and may have negative cost effects for Government and industry. FSANZ has noted that the potential benefits of approving the variation to the Food Safety Standard outweighs the potential costs, especially since no public health or safety concerns were raised.
MON-87751 has previously received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada. The protective proteins are also expressed on MON-89034, which has previously received FSANZ approval. Submissions are open until 26 August 2015.