The establishment of genetically engineered canola populations in the US

October 5, 2011

Large, persistent populations of genetically engineered canola 1 have been found outside of cultivation in North Dakota. As genetically engineered crops become increasingly prevalent in the United States, concerns remain about potential ecological side effects.

A study published today by the online journal reports that genetically engineered canola endowed with have been found growing outside of established cultivation regions along roadsides across North Dakota. These "escaped" plants were found state-wide and accounted for 45% of the total roadside plants sampled.

Furthermore, populations were found to persist from year to year and reach thousands of individuals. The authors also found that the escaped plants could hybridize with each other to create novel combinations of transgenic traits.

The authors argue that their result, more than 10 years after the initial release of genetically engineered canola, "raises questions of whether adequate oversight and monitoring protocols are in place in the U.S. to track the of biotech products." However, they also note that biotechnology can provide important tools to feed the rapidly growing . "We must safely engage all tools available to us to advance food, fuel and fiber alternatives as modern agriculture rises to the challenges of the next decade," they conclude.

"More than half of the earth's terrestrial landscape is managed in cultivated or forage species," says lead researcher Cynthia Sagers, "yet we have little understanding of how domesticated plants influence their wild relatives. This study is a first step in addressing these questions by documenting that domesticated species have a life outside of cultivated fields."

Explore further: Study cites abundance of genetically modified canola crops

More information: Schafer MG, Ross AA, Londo JP, Burdick CA, Lee EH, et al. (2011) The Establishment of Genetically Engineered Canola Populations in the U.S.. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25736. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025736

Related Stories

Study cites abundance of genetically modified canola crops

August 14, 2010

Genetic engineering has been hailed as a tool to produce crops that are left unharmed by weed-killing pesticides and that are more productive than their forebears. But critics have worried that modified plants might take ...

Studying How Modified Genes Escape Into Nature

February 5, 2007

A University of Arkansas researcher and her colleagues are developing a way to examine how the genomes rearrange themselves during hybridization to better pinpoint how genetically modified organisms may behave when they cross ...

Researcher to Study Gene Flow 'Hot Spots' in Canola

April 24, 2008

A University of Arkansas researcher and her colleagues have won a joint grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to look at the combined effects of global climate change on weed ...

Recommended for you

Protein disrupts infectious biofilms

December 8, 2016

Many infectious pathogens are difficult to treat because they develop into biofilms, layers of metabolically active but slowly growing bacteria embedded in a protective layer of slime, which are inherently more resistant ...

An anti-CRISPR for gene editing

December 8, 2016

Researchers have discovered a way to program cells to inhibit CRISPR-Cas9 activity. "Anti-CRISPR" proteins had previously been isolated from viruses that infect bacteria, but now University of Toronto and University of Massachusetts ...

The song of silence

December 8, 2016

Like humans learning to speak, juvenile birds learn to sing by mimicking vocalizations of adults of the same species during development. Juvenile birds preferentially learn the song of their own species, even in noisy environments ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tLg
not rated yet Oct 05, 2011
wow 45% - that's scary. Considering, how can the patenting of life, aside from being unethical, be remotely feasible?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.