The much-anticipated results of Britain's field trials of genetically modified crops show that genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant (GMHT) oilseed rape (canola) and sugar beet cropping reduced biodiversity in and around fields relative to conventional crops, while GMHT maize increased it.

The trials were called “farm-scale evaluations of the impact on biodiversity of genetically modified, herbicide tolerant crops,” but the studies, published today (October 16) in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, are less about GM crops directly than about the herbicides used to manage weeds in GM and conventional varieties.

Chris Pollock, chairman of the trials' steering committee, speaking to The Scientist this morning, noted that herbicide-tolerant crops can be generated with out genetic manipulation. He stressed that this study was about the wider biodiversity implications of being able to use herbicide-tolerant crops.

“The novelty of this study is that for the first time, we've looked at this in...

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