Are concerns about feral genetically modified herbicide tolerant oilseed resulting from seed import spills scientifically justified?

Devos, Yann; Hails, Rosemary S.; Messéan, Antoine; Perry, Joe N.; Squire, Geoffrey R.. 2012 Are concerns about feral genetically modified herbicide tolerant oilseed resulting from seed import spills scientifically justified? In: Romeis, Jörg; Meissle, Michael; Álvarez-Alfageme, Fernando, (eds.) Proceedings of the Fifth Meeting on Ecological Impact of Genetically Modified Organisms (EIGMO) at Ceske Budejovice (Czech Republic), 22–25 June, 2011. International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control of Noxious Animals and Plants, West Palearctic Regional Section (IOBC/WPRS), 27-31. (IOBC/WPRS Bulletin, v. 73).

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One of the concerns surrounding the import (for food and feed uses or processing) of genetically modified herbicide tolerant oilseed rape (GMHT OSR) is that, through seed spillage, the herbicide tolerance (HT) trait will escape into agricultural or semi-natural habitats, causing environmental or economic problems. Whether the concerns posed by feral GMHT OSR from seed import spills are scientifically justified is debatable. While OSR has characteristics such as secondary dormancy and small seed size that enable it to persist and be redistributed in the landscape, the presence of ferals is not in itself an environmental or economic problem. Crucially, feral OSR has not become invasive outside cultivated and ruderal habitats, and HT traits are not likely to result in increased invasiveness. Feral GMHT OSR has the potential to introduce HT traits to volunteer weeds in agricultural fields, but would only be amplified if the herbicides to which HT volunteers are tolerant were used routinely in the field. This worst-case scenario is most unlikely, as seed import spills are mostly confined to port areas. Economic concerns revolve around the potential for feral GMHT OSR to contribute to GM admixtures in non-GM crops. Since feral plants derived from cultivation (as distinct from import) occur at too low a frequency to affect the coexistence tolerance threshold of 0.9% in the EU, it can be concluded that feral GMHT plants resulting from seed import spills will have little relevance as a potential source of pollen or seed for GM admixture. This paper concludes that feral OSR in Europe should not be routinely managed, and certainly not in semi-natural habitats, as the benefits of such action would not outweigh the negative effects of management.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hails
ISBN: 9789290672500
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 02 Feb 2012 14:11 +0 (UTC)

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