Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetically modified crops not necessarily a threat to the environment

23.05.2003


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 doesn’t 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 won’t."


For example, another study co-authored by Rieseberg, published last month in Ecological Applications, showed that a bacterial transgene inserted into sunflowers significantly increases seed production of wild sunflowers and therefore may incur ecological costs.

A common worry about genetically modified (GM) crops is that new, highly advantageous genes will seep through wild populations as crop plants mingle and reproduce with their wild cousins.

While the new report by Rieseberg and Burke does not refute that worry, the researchers believe that the movement of certain genes from GM crops into the wild may occur at a glacial pace, meaning wild plants in locations far from their alter egos in farm crops will not encounter the transgenes for a long time.

"The question isn’t whether these transgenes will escape into wild relatives -- we know they will," Rieseberg said. "Even if the wild hybrids are partially sterile or inviable, genes will still move across the farm property barrier. So it’s really the fitness effects of a gene that dictate the speed at which it spreads. Genes that aren’t advantageous to the wild plants will spread very slowly. The transgenes that are truly deleterious to wild species won’t move much at all."

The scientists introduced a wheat gene for the white mold-combating enzyme oxalate oxidase (OxOx) to wild sunflowers and compared wild plants with and without the transgene at natural study sites in California, North Dakota and Indiana. Half of the plants in each group were inoculated with white mold. At the end of the study period, Rieseberg and Burke counted the number of seeds produced by each plant. The researchers found that the OxOx transgene had no appreciable effect on the wild plants’ ability to produce seeds. Wild plants lacking the transgene made just as many seeds as plants with the transgene. Rieseberg and Burke also found that the OxOx transgene did not harm any of the sunflowers that possessed it when they were not exposed to the disease.

White mold infection has plagued sunflower farmers for years. Attempts at breeding natural resistance in the economically important plant have generally failed. Fungicides are costly and ineffective, and they may carry health consequences for consumers. The introduction of the OxOx gene to sunflower crops may help reduce their susceptibility to mold.


Both the Science and the Ecological Applications reports were funded by grants from Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a DuPont Corp. company.

To speak with Rieseberg or Burke, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or brickerd@indiana.edu.

Source: "Fitness Effects of Transgenic Disease Resistance in Sunflowers," Science, vol. 300, no. 5623

David Bricker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://newsinfo.iu.edu/

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

nachricht Ecological intensification of agriculture
09.09.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Custom-tailored strategy against glioblastomas

26.09.2016 | Health and Medicine

Cooling buildings with solar heat

26.09.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>