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GM gene crosses species

Landscape sampling finds plant transgene flow into related species in same genus 14 km away

Cathy Holding(cathy.holding@absw.org.uk)

A genetically modified crop has passed its transgene on to a closely related species growing 14 kilometers away and to wild-growing plants of the same species 21 kilometers away, according to an article published this week in PNAS.

Authors from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report that a novel sampling method found evidence of gene flow from transgenic Agrostis stolonifera—commonly known as bentgrass—into the related species, A. gigantea. There was no evidence that the gene crossed into a grass in a different genus, Polypogon monspeliensis.

Bentgrass is an amenity grass usually grown on golf courses and as a forage crop, but it is also listed as a weed in parts of the world, including in some parts of the United States. The transgenic strain was engineered to contain the RoundUp (glyphosate) resistance gene CP4 EPSPS.

But researchers Anne Fairbrother and Lidia S. Watrud were not...

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