Friday, June 20, 2003

Wilkinson et al., "Risk assessment of GM plants: avoiding gridlock?" Trends in Plant Science 2003, 8:208-212
Overall then, we expect more GM cultivars grown over a wider area and containing a broader array of transgenes, expressed in various ways. These developments should radically increase the adaptability of farming, with benefits to farmers and, in some cases, to the environment. Conversely, there are legitimate concerns over possible environmental consequences arising from some GM cultivars. Predicting detrimental impact becomes more challenging as the diversity of GM releases grows and will be particularly difficult for transgenes that fundamentally change plant physiology (e.g. lignin content and drought tolerance). However, it is important to distinguish between unwanted environmental changes attributable to a transgene and those caused by other aspects of a dynamic agro-environment. Indeed, the absence of quality 'baseline data' on environmental change caused by farm practice, land use, conventional or mutation breeding or by the importation of exotics for gardening is something that warrants attention. The purpose of this article is to draw attention to forthcoming problems relating to the release of future GM crops and to propose a more generic strategy for risk assessment.

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