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TITLE:  Mutant plants as toxic as GM parent - study
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   Nov 29, 2002

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Mutant plants as toxic as GM parent - study

LONDON - Genetically modified plants can pass on the same level of toxicity 
to insects even when they are cross-bred with "natural" plants, scientists 
in the United States have shown. A study by researchers at the University 
of North Carolina will concern environmentalists who say planted GM crops 
have cross-pollinated with normal plants to create "superweeds" that are 
resistant to insect attack and could spread rapidly. "It shows that GM 
crops can irreversibly pass on their genes to wild plants and contaminate 
our natural heritage," Greenpeace spokesman, Ben Alyffe told Reuters. "Once 
we release GM crops there's no going back. The genie is out of the bottle." 
The lab experiment cross-pollinated oilseed rape (canola) containing an 
anti-pest gene with its natural relative, birdseed rape. Five of the 11 
resulting hybrids "expressed the insecticide produced by the gene at levels 
similar to the GM parent and were highly toxic to insects," the New 
Scientist said. Alyffe said oilseed rape was a particular problem because 
it pollinated so widely. Earlier this year Canada's expert panel on 
biotechnology was reported as saying that GM superweeds had invaded 
Canadian farms.


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