Advice on General Surveillance concerning import of GT73 oilseed rape
In February 2012, COGEM advised on the market application for import and processing of glyphosate resistant and tolerant oilseed rape GT73. COGEM concluded that import and processing of this line poses negligible risks to the environment. However, a post-market monitoring plan completing the application was absent. EFSA has now made this plan available for comments by the member states.
Oilseed rape is known for its ability to form volunteers in disturbed environments like roadsides or along railway tracks. In the Netherlands, glyphosate application is the most commonly used method of weed control along railway tracks. If glyphosate is used for weed control, spilled GM oilseed rape will have a selective advantage over other plants and may be able to form small volunteer populations. The establishment of small volunteer populations of spilled GT73 in disturbed environments where glyphosate is frequently applied cannot be excluded.
Cross-fertilisation of GM oilseed rape volunteers could lead to stacking of different traits. Although COGEM does not consider stacking of traits from currently authorised GM oilseed rape varieties an environmental risk,1 it is important to know whether stacked events arise. This will allow future risk assessments to take the putative presence of stacked oilseed rape events into account.
Also, COGEM points out that the monitoring plan could be improved on two other points.
Considering the above, COGEM advises that monitoring should pay special attention to handling areas and distribution routes where viable GM oilseed rape seeds could be spilled unintentionally. Railway companies and/or companies in charge of the maintenance of railway tracks should be enlisted by the authorisation holder to monitor the occurrence of GM oilseed rape along railway tracks.