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Checkbiotech: GM pasture plant no greater weed risk
Posted by: DR. RAUPP (IP Logged)
Date: December 04, 2004 04:31PM ;

New research has shown that genetically modified (GM) subterranean clover is
unlikely to be more of a weed threat than conventional subterranean clover,
Dezember 2004.

As part of a wider CSIRO study into genetically modified organisms (GMOs),
CSIRO Plant Industry studied the environmental risk of GM subterranean
clover (sub-clover) as a potential weed in remnant native grasslands.

"Our field and glasshouse trials provided no evidence that the invasiveness
and competitiveness of GM sub-clover was any greater than conventional
sub-clover, indeed at higher densities GM sub-clover performs less well," Dr
Bob Godfree of CSIRO Plant Industry says.

Conventional sub-clover is a common pasture plant that can occur in native
grasslands. To improve its nutritional quality researchers have added a
sunflower gene to increase its protein.

Weediness was determined by comparing seed germination rates, plant growth,
seed production, seed weight and seed dormancy between a GM and non-GM

"We found that GM sub-clover seed tended to be 'softer' so slightly less
dormant meaning more seed was 'released' from the seed bank and could
germinate every year," Dr Godfree says.

"In a good year 'soft' seed is an advantage as the largest number of seed
can grow in the favourable conditions but in a poor year it's a disadvantage
as much of the seed is wasted that year leaving a limited amount for the
following season."

"Overall it was clear that in native grassland situations GM sub-clover
populations would decline over time and in pastures both GM and non-GM
sub-clover might persist."

There are no plans to generally release the GM sub-clover. This study helps
improve the understanding of the ecology of GM plants and how they may
differ from their conventional counterparts.

All gene technology research at CSIRO is approved by the Office of the Gene
Technology Regulator. This research is done in collaboration with the Centre
for Plant Biodiversity Research.


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