environmental and genetic assessment of transgenic crop plants
Genetically modified plants have been well characterised on a limited,
experimental scale but further information is required before they can
be incorporated into large-scale, commercial plant breeding programmes.
It is necessary to establish the stability of the modifications in different
environments over many generations, and to develop effective monitoring
Approach and methodology
To obtain information on the safety of genetically modified plants, we
compared modified and non-modified plants in a range of agricultural environments.
A series of field trials was designed to determine whether the modified
plants differed from the non-modified plants in any aspect other than
the specific character conferred by the introduced genes. Most of the
modified plants contained marker genes, intended for experimental use,
that were not expected to improve plant performance.
Main findings and outcome
We produced lines of genetically modified plants in which the introduced
characters were stable and inherited as expected. Small differences between
the plant lines used in this study were detected. We aim to determine
the basis for these differences and whether this result is generally applicable.
The spread of pollen from modified plants was monitored by screening seeds
from non-modified plants, grown nearby, for kanamycin resistance (that
is one of the introduced characters). This method enabled 100,000 seeds
to be screened per trial.
Practical experience gained in this study led to the development of methods
to perform and to monitor small-scale field trials using genetically modified
plants. We demonstrated that genetically modified plant lines are stable
in field conditions.
Paul E.M., Lewis G.B. and Dunwell J.M., "The pollination of
genetically modified plants".
Acta Horticult., 288, 1991, pp. 425-429.
E.M., Capiau K., Jacob M. and Dunwell J.M., "A study of gene
dispersal via pollen in Nicotiana tabacum using introduced
J. Appl. Ecol., 32, 1995, pp. 875-882.
E.M. and Dunwell J.M., "Implications of field observations
for the development of biosafety protocols for small-scale trials
of genetically modified plants", in 1st Int. Symp. on
The Biosafety Results of Field Tests of Genetically Modified Plants
Agric. Res. Inst., Bethseda., 1990, pp. 137-146.
J.M. and Paul E.M., "Impact of genetically modified crops
Outlook on Agriculture, 19, 1990, pp. 103-109.
P.D.S., Yapabandara Y.M.H.B., Paul E.M., Perret J., Roger P. and
Dunwell J.M., "Field performance of derived generations of
Theor. App. Genet., 86, 1993, pp. 875-879.
February 1989 December 1990
University of Reading (UK)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (BE)