'We do have to accept the fact that once GM oil seed rape is commercialised it will be everywhere and that is inevitable... I think realistically it's going to be very difficult for GM oil seed rape to coexist with non-GM on the same farm' - Dr Jeremy Sweet, of NIAB, at the GM Science debate held at Aberystwyth (item 2)
'95% of 27 certified seed lots were contaminated with herbicide tolerance transgenes' (item 1)
1. Transgenic Contamination of Certified Seed Stocks
2. GM oilseed rape will be everywhere
1.The Institute of Science in Society
Transgenic Contamination of Certified Seed Stocks
The spread of transgenes from genetically modified crops is a great threat to the quality of certified seed. Canola (oilseed rape in the UK) (Brassica napus, B. rapa, B. campestris) is the second most valuable crop in Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), a sub department of Agriculture Canada, requires a distance of 200 metres separation between fields growing certified seeds from any other Brassica, and a distance of 50 metres from weedy relatives. Recently, however, producers of hybrid canola [oil seed rape] seed have required a separation of 2 kilometers from a Brassica crop, in recognition that pollen from a Brassica crop may travel as far as a kilometer or more. CFIA separation distances are evidently inadequate for insuring the purity of certified seeds.
Friesen, Nelson and Van Acker in the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, studied certified canola seed stocks for contamination due to transgenes for herbicide tolerance to glyphosate, glufosinate or thifensulfuron . Certified seed stocks were studied in field plots to which herbicides were applied. The results showed that 95% of 27 certified seed lots were contaminated with herbicide tolerance transgenes; with 52% of the seed lots exceeding the 0.25% maximum contamination standard set for certified seed. Some lots were tolerant to both glyphosate and glufosinate.
A year earlier, Downie and Beckie from AgriFood Canada in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan , examined 70 certified canola seed lots using a laboratory Petri dish assay. They found 59% of the seed lots had detectable herbicide tolerance and 25% had contamination levels exceeding the maximum acceptable standard for certified seeds. The standard for cross contamination was established for conventional not transgenic cultivars, and presently, there are no standards for transgenic contamination of certified cultivars in Canada. Standards for transgene contamination of canola oil or oilseed cake for animal feed would be desirable, and even necessary for export purposes, given the requirements for labeling and traceability in Europe.
The extensive contamination of certified canola seed with transgenes for herbicide tolerance is staggering. The Canadian canola crop extends over some 5 million hectares, of which roughly 60% are planted with transgenic varieties. The extensive cross contamination by transgenic varieties could have been foreseen and predicted at the time field trials of transgenic crops were carried out. By now, it seems unlikely that transgene- free canola can be produced in western Canada. It is disturbing that CFIA appears to be totally unconcerned over the extensive contamination, which is evidence of gross negligence in oversight on its part.
1. Friesen LF, Nelson AG and Van Acker RC. Evidence of contamination of pedigreed canola (Brassica napus) seedlots in western Canada with genetically engineered herbicide resistance traits. Agron. J. 2003, 95 (in press).
2. Downey RK, and Beckie H. 2002. Isolation Effectiveness in Canola Pedigree Seed Production. Internal Research Report, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon Research Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0X2, Canada, 2002, 14 pp.
This article can be found on the I-SIS website athttp://www.i-sis.org.uk/TCCST.php
2. GM oilseed rape will be everywhere
From discussion during the GM Nation debate it would seem many are unaware of the major plantings of GM Oil Seed Rape authorised by DETR in the late 1990s. There were 2 releases authorised in Wales at Whitehouse Farm - 14.98 hectares and 18.14 hectares. However, this scale of this planting is dwarfed by the 45.59 hectares at Redhill Farm Gloucestershire. Full details are pasted below.
Comments made by Dr Jeremy Sweet, of NIAB, at the GM Science debate held at Aberystwyth are especially pertinent. His full statement is on pages 16 -26 at http://www.gmsciencedebate.org.uk/meetings/pdf/170303-transcript.pdf.:
1. .. 'people who have studied oil seed rape in seed banks have found that you get this persistence of a low level, of about 100 plants per square metre for several years. It could be up to 10 years'.
2. 'We looked at a combine harvester leaving actually a GM rape field, this was in the early days before we got too sensitive about these things. We found 6 kilos of seed in that combine harvester. It then went into a field of barley and harvested the barley, and that barley flushed out the rape seed and it all dropped into the ground. Now if you start doing that repeatedly on the farm you very rapidly start to have oil seed rape spread all around the farm and occurring in seed banks, and it becomes quite difficult to manage'.
3. 'the number of erucic acid crops has always been quite low, and usually fairly well managed and maintained in the production system. I think where the concern arises is that if oil seed rape..if GM oil seed rape becomes very widely grown, becomes say more than 20% 30% of the area of oil seed rape, then it becomes much more difficult to manage these sorts of things. If you are just talking about a few crops here and there around the country, it is much easier to manage than if you are talking about it becoming a mainstream part of agriculture'..
4. 'we do have to accept the fact that once GM oil seed rape is commercialised it will be everywhere and that is inevitable, because conventional rape is everywhere, there is no reason why its going to behave differently from conventional rape. So once we start growing GM rape it will become as widely dispersed as conventional rape'
5. 'I think realistically it's going to be very difficult for GM oil seed rape to coexist with non-GM on the same farm'