A trial of genetically modified bananas will begin south of Darwin [Australia] in a few months after a five-year trial received approval from the gene technology regulator.
Two hundred modified lines of Cavendish bananas will be grown over 6 hectares in the Litchfield region in the hope of developing a variety resistant to Panama Tropical Race 4.
The destructive fungal disease is now commonplace in the Northern Territory after being found in Darwin’s rural area in 1997.
“The outcome of [a similar previous] trial was that we found four lines of Cavendish Grand Nain which had either complete or very high levels of resistance,” [said professor James Dale, from the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), who is leading the banana research program.]
While there are no genetically modified bananas being grown commercially in Australia, Professor Dale said that may change if Panama disease became widespread.
“If the disease becomes really serious in Queensland then there would be a real possibility to take our bananas through to deregulation in Australia,” he said.
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