1. Howard on realkid Morton and the superweed
2. GE SUPERWEED TURNS NASTY
3. 'SUPERWEED' INVASION THREATENS FARMS: INDUSTRY HAS CREATED A CANOLA MONSTER ON PRAIRIES: EXPERTS
1. Phil Howard on 'realkid' Morton and the superweed
Wrong. The Crawley et al. study in the journal Nature used all the GM crop varieties available in 1990! This consisted of a single maize, sugar beet, and oilseed rape along with two potatoes. The current range of GM crops is now much larger.
On the other hand many scientists (and even the creators of the hebicide tolerant crops themselves) know that the creation of superweeds of the first type is a possibility when crops are made herbicide tolerant using GM. I seem to recall that when herbicide tolerant canola was being thought about there were lots of people recomending that multiple herbicide resistance genes not be used in close proximity to each other so that multiply herbicide resistant canola plant or weedy relatives would hot arise.
You don't seem to recall the vehement denials of the risk of transfer of herbicide resistance by Monsanto scientists. For example:
Thomas Nickson, an ecological technology coordinator for Monsanto Co., the St. Louis-based plant biotechnology giant. "The risk of creating a superweed," Nickson said, "is truly an insignificant one." Washington Post, Monday, September 21, 1998; Page A03
If people have not been following these recomendations and planting canola with three different herbicide resistance genes then I don't think anyone is suprised that they might produce a single canola plant with resistance to all three herbicides.
Farmers who have discovered canola resistant to 3 different pesticides have stated they were not informed of the recommendations (Western Producer, February 10, 2000). This echoes the more recent failure to inform corn growers that the Starlink variety was not approved for human consumption. The recommendations won't be effective anyway as wind and animal pollinators do not neatly conform to 200 meter buffers.
Super weeds of the first type are only a concern for wicked farmers using herbicides in the first place - so most people on this list can relax about them :-)
Bergelson et al., also published in Nature (Volume 395, p 25, September 3, 1998), and they reported that herbicide resistant A. thaliana were 20 times more likely to outcross than non-genetically modified varieties. This was in the absence of herbicide application! They concluded "these results show that genetic engineering can substantially increase the probability of transgene escape."
Phil Howard Dept. of Rural Sociology University of Missouri
2. GE SUPERWEED TURNS NASTY
Vancouver - A superweed created by genetic engineering is invading North American farms and posing a threat to rapeseed crops, the cabbage-like source of cooking oils, reports a panel of experts on biotechnology.
The plant - also known as colza or canola N - was engineered to resist a specific weedkiller, the idea being that rapeseed farmers would have one effective herbicide to which their crop would be immune.
The trouble was, three separate genetic-engineering firms made rapeseed resistant to three different herbicides.
The three new varieties eventually "met" and produced rapeseed immune to all three weedkillers - a superweed threatening to crowd out its "parents", says the report released in Vancouver this week by the Royal Society of Biotechnology. - Sapa
'SUPERWEED' INVASION THREATENS FARMS: INDUSTRY HAS CREATED A CANOLA MONSTER ON PRAIRIES: EXPERTS
Ottawa Citizen/The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)/etc
OTTAWA -- In a related story, Canada's expert panel on biotechnology was cited as saying genetically modified "superweeds'' have invaded Canadian farms -- canola plants engineered to help farmers that instead escaped and crossbred with each other to form plants stronger than their parents. Most pesticides can't kill these canola superweeds, which are sprouting up in wheat fields and other areas where farmers don't want them.
The report was cited as saying that the biotech industry has been "naive'' in thinking that good farming methods alone will hold superweeds at bay, and the panel warns that as the next generation of genetically engineered crops becomes more complex, it will be tougher to head off the superweeds of the future. Brian Ellis, a co-chair of the panel and molecular biologist from the University of British Columbia was quoted as saying that canola "is the classic example'' of a superweed.
Canola varieties such as Liberty Link and Roundup Ready were engineered to use with a pesticide (such as Roundup). The idea was that a farmer would plant canola resistant to Roundup, then spray the field with Roundup. Everything except the canola would die. Where canola is nearly pesticide-proof, it can crowd out other plants -- crops and weeds -- in farm fields. But its resistance to pesticides doesn't help its survival in the wild, where there are no pesticides.
Ellis was further quoted as saying, "The next generation . . . is crops that come along carrying genes that make them more frost-tolerant or drought-tolerant. They have an advantage over their wild cousins.'' That means they will have a bioengineered advantage in taking over farm fields and in moving through wild areas. Ellis was also quoted as saying, "The point is, technology is still driving agricultural production along a chemical-dependence route. And I think that's something the government has to take a very serious look at.''