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GM crops found beyond the farm !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 9

Shankar of our group has been harping on the need for regulation, regulation and regulation. Regularly :-)

Now read this news about how genetically modified canola escaped out into the world !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The threat is for real.
It is believed that there are about 100 universitites working on GM algae besides Craig Venter and ExxonMobile.

Hope this news brings about some sensible regulation.

One of the concerns about working with genetically modified crops has been that vegetation growing in agricultural fields might escape out into the world. Now, for the first time in the U.S., researchers report a large population of GM crops beyond the farm.

Transgenic canola plants in North Dakota had received genes making them resistant to herbicides, such as the weed killer Roundup.

Researchers collected and tested 406 canola plants along thousands of miles of state roads. They found 347 carrying at least one resistance gene. There were also indications that the inserted genes were being passed on to new generations, producing some plants in the wild with multiple transgenes.

The findings were presented on August 6th at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh. [Meredith Schafer et al., University of Arkansas]

The transgenic canola plants are not about to take over the world. But researchers are obviously curious about how these particular plants managed to make it in places like the edges of parking lots rather than pampered fields.

Any answers they find will likely affect future biotechnology regulation.

For the podcast go here
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=transgenic-canola-plants-break-free-10-08-06&sc=DD_20100806
Sat August 07 2010 02:26:44 AM by Emily shankar  |  gm  |  transgenes  |  canola 1892 views

Comments - 8

  • Manohar wrote:
    Sat August 07 2010 04:50:12 AM

    What is the present existing biotechnology regulation ? This is gettiing serious !!

    Vote Up! 1 Vote Down! 0

  • Sat August 07 2010 08:45:28 AM

    It should be possible to develop high yielding strains of algae without genetic engineering. Division of a pond into, say, ten parallel tracks and use of the best strain to seed the whole pond should enable rapid improvement, as well as strains that are resistant to contamination and do not have the risks inherent in genetic engineering. James Lovelock's book Gaia presents the thought experiment of a genetically engineered algae strain that multiplies dangerously in the wild. Although this may be unlikely, it suggests that algae production on large scale is best developed through invention of production methods using plant husbandry of natural algae, rather than engineering of high yielding strains.

    Vote Up! 5 Vote Down! 0

  • Sumukhi wrote:
    Sat August 07 2010 05:12:34 PM

    I too stand by what RobertTulip says..

    Based on many experts opinion, it will be very very difficult to control the GMO's

    Many algae researchers also feel that native strains of algae which have high doubling rate with atleast 15-20% oil can do wonders!

    Vote Up! 5 Vote Down! 0

  • Manohar wrote:
    Sat August 07 2010 08:34:32 PM

    The questions are how did the genetically modified canola escape the farm ? What precautions were taken?
    What failed?
    What needs to be done in the future ?
    What needs to be done in the case of algae is the last of the questions.

    Vote Up! 0 Vote Down! 0

  • Natalia wrote:
    Sat August 07 2010 11:49:28 PM

    Researchers in the US have found new evidence that genetically modified crop plants can survive and thrive in the wild, possibly for decades.

    A University of Arkansas team surveyed countryside in North Dakota for canola. Transgenes were present in 80% of the wild canola plants they found.

    They suggest GM traits may help the plants survive weedkillers in the wild.

    The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh.
    Continue reading the main story
    ?Start Quote

    Over time, the build-up of different types of herbicide resistance in feral canola and closely related weeds could make it more difficult to manage these plants?

    End Quote Professor Alison Snow Ohio State University

    "We just drew 11 lines that crossed the state [of North Dakota] - highways and other roads," related research team leader Cindy Sagers.

    "We drove along them, we made 604 stops in a total distance of over 3,000 miles (5,000km). We found canola in 46% of the locations; and 80% of them contained at least one transgene."

    In some places, the plants were packed as closely together as they are in farmers' fields.

    "We found herbicide resistant canola in roadsides, waste places, ball parks, grocery stores, gas stations and cemeteries," they related in their Ecological Society presentation.

    The majority of canola grown in North Dakota has been genetically modified to make it resistant to proprietary herbicides, with Monsanto's RoundUp Ready and Bayer's LibertyLink the favoured varieties. These accounted for most of the plants found in the wild.

    Two of the plants analysed contained both transgenes, indicating that they had cross-pollinated.

    This is thought to be the first time that communities of GM plants have been identified growing in the wild in the US.

    Similar findings have been made in Canada, while in Japan, a study in 2008 found substantial amounts of transgenic rape - a close relative of canola - around port areas where GM varieties had been imported.

    State-wide

    What surprised the Arkansas team was how ubiquitous the GM varieties were in the wild.

    "We found the highest densities of plants near agricultural fields and along major freeways," Professor Sagers told BBC News.

    "But we were also finding plants in the middle of nowhere - and there's a lot of nowhere in North Dakota."
    Canola seeds The GM seeds seem to be competitive, allowing a plant community to survive

    Canola seeds are especially prone to dispersal, through blowing in the wind or through falling from trucks, as the seeds weigh just a few thousandths of a gram.

    Professor Alison Snow, an authority on gene flow from Ohio State University who was not involved in the research, said that authorities had anticipated the existence of GM "volunteers" - plants growing in the wild outside fields - but did not consider it a problem.

    "Regulatory agencies in the US have acknowledged that volunteer populations of GM, herbicide-resistant canola are expected to occur, as well as populations of inter-specific hybrids," she told BBC News.

    "Over time, however, the build-up of different types of herbicide resistance in feral canola and closely related weeds, like field mustard, could make it more difficult to manage these plants using herbicides."

    US policy is not to place a GM crop under any special regulatory regime unless there is a demonstrable difference between it and its conventional equivalent. The varieties in use here were deregulated in 1988 and 1989.

    This is very different from the regime that has existed for a decade in the European Union.

    But the European Commission recently recommended that nations should now be allowed to make their own decisions on whether to allow the crops or not, once they have passed health and environmental impact assessments at EU level.

    Authorisations at EU level have been issued for GM potatoes, sugar beet, soya bean, oilseed rape, cotton and maize products.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10859264

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  • Georgeonik wrote:
    Sun August 08 2010 02:23:41 AM

    Missouri is home of Monsanto, where agent orange was born. I live in a predominantly rural area and I know quite a few farmers. Monsanto has bought out most of the seed companies in the mid-west and they fully intend to make sure everyone is using their product; GM seeds. There is a catch: you cannot replant seeds from your crop. You must buy new seed each year. It seems that goons in suits are out checking for violators. If you are caught replanting seeds they can take your farm away for patent infringement. This is not an urban legend. A major corporation has cornered the seed market. How soon before algae is patented? So when it spreads like canola, (my guess is the little birdies are pooping seed everywhere) anyone found with genetically altered algae in the old reactor is going to lose everything. When it comes to corporations and profit don't get between mama bear and her cub. The "dangers" and ethical considerations are irrelevant. It's all about the buck. The cat is out of the bag. Stopping abuse of GM was a possibility before, but it is history now. By the time any meaningful controls can be enforced it will be a matter of asking forgiveness, not permission.

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  • Sun August 08 2010 02:24:43 AM

    Pretty informative Natalia. HOw can the nations have health and environmental assessments at EU level ?
    What is EU level to start with ? Is it adequate ?

    Does USA have its own assessment criteria ?
    Anyone here in the know ?

    Vote Up! 2 Vote Down! 0

  • Shankar wrote:
    Mon August 09 2010 01:13:33 PM

    What we need is to set up some sort of international regime for certifying, monitoring, verifying, and inspecting GM algae ? like the U.N. weapons inspections systems.

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