Friday, October 10, 2003

Wilkinson et al., "Hybridization Between Brassica napus and B. rapa on a National Scale in the United Kingdom," Science express abstract:
Measures blocking hybridization would prevent or reduce biotic or environmental change caused by gene flow from genetically modified (GM) crops to wild relatives. The efficacy of any such measure depends on hybrid numbers within the legislative region over the life-span of the GM cultivar. We present a national assessment of hybridization between rapeseed (Brassica napus) and B. rapa from a combination of sources, including population surveys, remote sensing, pollen dispersal profiles, herbarium data, local Floras, and other floristic databases. Across the United Kingdom, we estimate that 32,000 hybrids form annually in waterside B. rapa populations, whereas the less abundant weedy populations contain 17,000 hybrids. These findings set targets for strategies to eliminate hybridization and represent the first step toward quantitative risk assessment on a national scale.
Science news; nsu; BBC:
The researchers conclude: "We infer that widespread, relatively frequent hybrid formation is inevitable from male-fertile GM rapeseed in the UK... the substantial numbers of predicted long-range hybrids means physical isolation would tend only to suppress rather than prevent hybrid formation."

But they add: "The presence of hybrids is not a hazard in itself and does not imply inevitable ecological change... an estimate of hybrid abundance represents only the first step toward a more quantitative assessment of risk at the national level."

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