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July 26, 2005

Mutant Weeds from Genetic Modification Crops

Okay, this is actually the nightmare anti-GM activists predicted:

Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed", the Guardian can reveal.
The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago...

Brian Johnson, an ecological geneticist and member of the government's specialist scientific group which assessed the farm trials, has no doubt of the significance. "You only need one event in several million. As soon as it has taken place the new plant has a huge selective advantage. That plant will multiply rapidly."

I've been vaguely in favor of modest introduction of genetically modified crops as a solution to food scarcity in various parts of the world.

But the danger is exactly this, that GM crops will create their own enemy in the form of superweeds or other parasites that could do more damage than the crops do good.

A bit sobering.

Posted by Nathan at July 26, 2005 12:47 AM