Genetically Modified Crops Are Unlikely to Contaminate Environment, Report Finds

February 8, 2001 Reuters

LONDON - Plants genetically modified to resist pests and drought are unlikely to contaminate other plants or turn into pesticide-resistant superweeds, British researchers said Wednesday. A decade-long study of four types of GM crops planted in Britain alongside normal crops showed they did not spread their altered genes to other species or survive longer than their natural neighbors.

"Four different crops – oilseed rape, potato, maize and sugar beet – were grown in 12 different habitats and monitored over a period of 10 years," Michael Crawley, of Imperial College London, said in a study published in the science journal Nature.

"In no case were the genetically modified plants found to be more invasive or more persistent than their conventional counterparts."

Fears about the creation of superweeds, the spread of modified genes and risk of harm to insects and humans have been at the heart of the argument against GM foods. Supporters of the technology claim it is needed to feed an increasingly hungry world and to grow tastier and more nutritious plants.

The London researchers said their results did not prove other genetic modifications in plants would not cause problems, something which could not be tested without other field trials. A review of scientific studies into whether GM crops pose a risk to the environment published in December was inconclusive.


Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company

Return to the home page of Better Foods