GRDC - Ground Cover Issue 58 - News in brief

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Traces of genetically modified material are reported to have been found in samples of South Australian canola from ABB Grain.

Randomly selected samples tested positively for Topaz 19/2 - a variety not trialled since 1997. The levels detected are reported as being below the internationally agreed 0.01 per cent standard.

ABB corporate affairs manager maggie dowling says the detection was expected after traces were also found in other states, and the only issue for the company is ensuring customers realise the levels were well below accepted thresholds. At the time of the detection in August, the source of the contamination was not known.

Gene scene, page 28

WA"s soft wheat growers have access to a new high-yielding, rust-resistant variety following the Department of Agriculture"s release of BullaringPlant Breeder Rights icon.

Department director general Ian Longson says BullaringPlant Breeder Rights icon, together with EGA 2248 and EGA JitarningPlant Breeder Rights icon, are expected to boost the state"s soft wheat industry. He says BullaringPlant Breeder Rights icon is a high-yielding soft wheat, suitable for all traditional soft wheat growing areas. "A key feature of BullaringPlant Breeder Rights icon is its resistance to the three rusts and septoria tritici blotch. It has the best combination of disease resistances among Australian soft varieties."

BullaringPlant Breeder Rights icon was bred by Robyn McLean and the WA wheat breeding team.

For more information:

Biotechnology is an advantage that Australia ignores at its "own peril", Agriculture minister Peter mcGauran told the audience at the "Best Food and Fibre Forum & Dinner" at Parliament House in September.

He received applause when he added: "I do not support the moratoriums on GM crops in several states. I will press this at every forum. We cannot afford to ignore developments like this. It will be at the detriment of sustainable agriculture, human health, and the environment if we ignore it."

The WA Department of Agriculture has released the first provisional milling quality dwarf oat for WA growers, KojonupPlant Breeder Rights icon. It is expected to perform best in Agzones 2, 3 and 6, taking in all the major oat production areas. Department director general Ian Longson says KojonupPlant Breeder Rights icon is easily dehulled and would also make an excellent feed oat variety.

For more information:; Lisa Bertram or Bob Figg, 08 9368 3641

"Better varieties faster" is the goal of a merger between Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) and SunPrime Seeds which sees the formation of Australia"s largest grains breeding organisation. Murray Rogers, inaugural chairman of the new entity, AGT-SunPrime, says it is a step towards rationalising Australia"s wheat breeding industry. Mr Rogers is a former managing director of AWB.

AGT has a strong base of plant-breeding technical expertise and delivery networks throughout southern and Western Australia, while SunPrime Seeds has a strong track record in wheat variety development in northern Australia and a successful seed commercialisation business.

The AGT-SunPrime genetic portfolio now includes the former Roseworthy and Waite breeding programs in SA, the Victorian Department of Primary Industries program at Horsham, and the "Sun" varieties from the Narrabri Plant Breeding Institute. AGT was established three years ago as a joint venture between the GRDC, the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Research & Development Institute.

Canadian company Philom Bios Inc has been chosen by the GRDC to evaluate and commercialise novel inoculant technologies. GRDC business development executive manager Vince Logan says that GRDC has invested in several research projects with a number of partners to develop new inoculants for use by cereal and canola growers. "These new inoculants are designed to increase profitability and sustainability through soil disease control and to provide growth promotion effects," he says.

Philom Bios is a world leader in commercialising the development of inoculant products.

Ballarat-based Japanese noodle manufacturer Hakubaku, which featured in the August/September issue of Ground Cover, sources the majority of its wheat from AWB. the company says it was an existing Japanese parent company and AWB that helped the company decide to open a manufacturing facility in Australia 10 years ago.

Plant Breeder Rights icon Varieties displaying this symbol beside them are protected under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994.