SECB Statement on the experimental release of genetically modified Pm wheat strains

The SECB has issued a Statement on this application. It concludes that the planned experimental release poses a negligible risk to humans, animals and the environment and can therefore be approved.

Various genetically modified Bobwhite summer wheat strains containing the resistance genes Pm3, Pm8 and Pm17 will be tested in the field. These genes are derived from wheat (Pm3) and rye (Pm8 and Pm17) and confer resistance to powdery mildew, a fungal disease. The release is a continuation of field trials that began as part of National Research Programme (NRP) 59 and continued with application B13001 (link to application).

The trials will take place from 2019 to 2023 at the Protected Site, a secure experimental facility for field trials involving genetically modified plants.

Compared with application B13001, the planned trials will involve new combinations of different Pm3 alleles, including a modified Pm3d/e allele. A number of Pm8 and Pm17 lines will also be tested. Resistance genes Pm8 and Pm17 are derived from the same source as Pm3. They were also isolated by the University of Zurich and analysed in greenhouse conditions.

The aim of the experiment is to investigate whether the powdery mildew resistance observed in the greenhouse also applies in field conditions and how the different allele combinations affect the resistance behaviour. In addition, plant growth and yield will be compared with non-genetically modified wheat strains. The experiments are intended to improve basic knowledge about the sustainable use of resistance genes.

This trial will be covered by the full range of security measures in place at the Protected Site, designed to prevent vandalism and the removal of plant matter. As with the other wheat trials, coated seed will be used and isolation distances from wheat, rye and triticale crops will be maintained. The trial fields will also be covered with a net or fleece after sowing and before harvest to prevent the grains being removed or eaten by birds.

SECB Statement of 13 December 2018 (in German)

The application was published in the Federal Gazette on 13 November 2018 and approved by the Federal Office for the Environment in a decree dated 14 March 2019.

Information from the FOEN on the experimental release

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Last edition: 01.09.2022