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Unleashing GMO's into the environment

in the lab. From this, he hopes to be able to tell whether a foreign gene will make wild plants more invasive or not. Bullock hasn't published his results yet, and acknowledges that modelling can't give definite answers. But his initial results indicate that GM oilseed rape could affect its wild turnip relatives. In one worst-case scenario, a population of turnips could increase hugely at the expense of other species if it took up an oilseed rape gene that boosts seed production, he says. The results could be used to help decide which GM plants are safe enough for field trials, Bullock says. "If you then put a plant into the wild, you could be fairly sure what the problems are likely to be."

The researchers accept that modelling environmental effects doesn't take into account other factors, such as ethical considerations, possible threats to human health and the potential benefits of the modified animals and plants. But Muir says he hopes his work will help make biotechnology more acceptable.


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Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
44-207-331-2751
New Scientist
4-Jul-2001


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