Cultivation of glyphosate tolerant GHB614 cotton
The present application by Bayer CropScience (file EFSA/GMO/ES/2012/104) concerns the cultivation of cotton GHB614 in Europe. Cotton line GHB614 was produced by Rhizobium radiobacter mediated transformation of conventional cotton. GHB614 expresses the 2mepsps gene and is as a result tolerant to glyphosate based herbicides. In the past, COGEM advised positively on the import of cotton line GHB614.
In North West Europe, no wild relatives of cotton are present. Modern cotton cultivars do not possess any of the attributes commonly associated with problematic weeds. COGEM does not know any reasons to assume that the introduced traits will increase the potential of cotton to establish feral populations.
Most importantly, cotton cannot survive the current climatologic conditions in North West Europe, making cultivation in the Netherlands highly unlikely. Since cotton is not cultivated in the Netherlands, there will be no exposure of organisms above- or belowground to GHB614. COGEM concludes therefore that risks for non-target organisms (NTOs) or soil functions are absent in the Netherlands. Although the NTO and soil studies might not fulfil the standards of COGEM, COGEM deems an evaluation of these studies unnecessary because the Dutch environment is not likely to be exposed to GHB614 plants. The General Surveillance plan could be improved on several points.
In view of the above, COGEM is of the opinion that the risks of cultivation of cotton line GHB614 in Europe for the environment in the Netherlands are negligible.