Nov. 24, 2014
New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) received an application seeking to release non-toxic Epichloë fungi to improve the resistance of rye corn and other annual cereal crops to pests, diseases and drought. The applicants are Grasslanz Technology Ltd and AgResearch Ltd, who consider that use of these endophytes in cereal crops is likely to reduce use of insecticides and fungicides. Epichloë fungi (formerly known as Neotyphodium) do not produce chemicals toxic to mammals, but retain the ability to produce compounds that are toxic and/or repellent to invertebrate pasture pests.
In April 2014, the two applicants have received approval for import and release of 45 Epichloë fungi strains. The companies now wish to release of a further 18 strains to ensure sufficient numbers of candidate strains for a greater probability of successful commercialisation of the cereal-endophyte technology. The public comment is open until January 28th 2015.