As concerns rise about the ecological impacts of genetically modified crops, a new Indiana University study urges a pragmatic approach to dealing with "transgenes" that escape from crop plants into the wild. Use of transgenic crops is becoming more common as farmers reap benefits from the plants decreased susceptibility to disease and increased marketplace value.
IU biologist Loren Rieseberg and former postdoctoral fellow John Burke (now at Vanderbilt University) reported in the May 23 issue of Science that a wheat transgene synthetically inserted into sunflowers has little or no effect on crop sunflowers wild relatives and is not likely to impact the environment.
"We found that a certain transgene that gives crop sunflowers resistance to white mold is unlikely to spread rapidly to the wild because the transgene doesnt affect the seed-producing abilities of wild sunflowers in nature," said Rieseberg, who led the study. "We need to examine each transgene and crop on a case-by-case basis. Some transgenes will have major ecological impacts and others probably wont."
David Bricker | EurekAlert!
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