GM Contamination Spreading

By Clive Wakley. Genetically modified (GM) seed manufacturers claimed that GM crops were not likely to survive in the wild, but US researchers have found GM plants have survived for at least two generations.

Research conducted by a team from the University of Arkansas have established not only that GM crops are spreading into the wild at an alarming rate but are also both surviving and reproducing – contrary to what biotech purveyors have previously claimed.

The team, travelling along more than 3,000 miles of roads in North Dakota, took weed samples every five miles.

From the samples taken they were able to determine that not less than 46 per cent of sample locations contained canola (an oilseed rape variant), of which a massive 83 per cent contained commercial GM strains of the crop.

It is also widely recognized that most of the canola grown in the region is manufactured by biotech giants Monsanto and Bayer.

The significance of this discovery is that it contradicts the claims of the biotech industry that their GM products either can’t survive in the wild or does not survive very well.

It also confirms the growing spread of superweeds – another side-effect that GM purveyors claimed “couldn’t happen”.

As has been previously reported on this site, other published research has confirmed not only the existence of herbicide resistant superweeds, but also their “exponential rate” of proliferation.

As no biotech company has ever laid claim to the manufacture of GM variants of common weeds, such as ragweed or ryegrass, then the only explanation is that such weeds have evolved from contact with species-compatible GM crops.

Previously the biotech industry were quick to downplay such concerns, claiming that GM crops don’t survive well in the wild and that when it came to competing with their wild counterparts they were “lousy” and did “not do very well at all”.

The accumulating evidence clearly contradicts this.

The Arkansas researchers, who presented their findings to the Ecological Society of America recently, claimed that once these seeds become established in wild populations it would become increasingly difficult to get rid of them using current herbicides, because of their growing resistance to a whole raft of products.

Contamination from GM to non-GM plants is not new.

In 2002 New Scientist magazine reported on the (then) recent discovery that oilseed rape crops being grown commercially in Canada were becoming increasingly resistant to a growing number of herbicides; resistance to three or more herbicides being not uncommon at that time.

The New Scientist report also touched upon the issue of superweeds, describing them as the result of “accidental crosses between neighboring crops that have been genetically modified.”

A number of issues clearly arise.

If, given the wide-open expanses of the North American prairies, it is not possible to prevent the contamination of traditional non-GM crops and wild plants from (wind blown?) GM material, then how will it ever be possible to grow GM crops in Britain without the neigh certainty of contamination?

Also, bearing in mind the relative ease with which GM material can contaminate non-GM plants, does this not potentially constitute a serious threat to staple crops, such as cereals for instance, upon which much of mankind depends?

Furthermore, what other side effects of GM products are yet to manifest themselves; how is it remotely possible to claim that genetic modification – creating gene structures that cannot and do not occur naturally in the environment (tomatoes with fish genes for instance) – is absolutely safe, either for mankind or for the environment?

Last, but certainly not least, how on earth can anyone take the claims of the profit-motivated biotech industry seriously when so many of their assurances have been exposed in the cold light of day as being, at best, questionable – at worse downright incorrect?

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