from the Herald Sun, 25 November 2004
CSR has started trials of genetically modified sugar cane which promises a higher yield, more cost-effective product.
The diversified industrial group is part-way through a lengthy trial with the University of Queensland and has already discovered that a better producing variety can be created.
The testing has been carried out on greenhouse-bred species only, and the trial is yet to find whether it can work in the field.
CSR Sugar chief executive Ian McMaster said the main consumer concern with GM products was interbreeding with other plants.
That had been tested on this product, he said, with no findings of any change.
Mr McMaster said the current project was in its second phase and commercialisation was unlikely to occur until at least 2010.
“We have been doing collaborative research for about four years on trying to improve the yield in a range of different products from sugar cane,” he said.
“It’s gotten to the stage where the results are sufficiently encouraging enough to increase our research and development commitment.”
Mr McMaster said CSR’s current products were GM-free and he expected little backlash if the new variety of cane became commercially viable.
“The change that has been made to the plant has changed the nature of the switching mechanism which dictates how much sugar it’s got in the stalk,” he said.
“One concern with GM is that GM plants will breed into other plants but we have varieties of sugar cane common varieties which generally speaking do not interbreed and would require an enormous amount of human intervention (for it to occur). The risk of interbreeding is low.”
Another group connected with the University of Queensland is also studying GM sugarcane.
CSR shares fell 1 to $2.64.