Genetically-Modified Crops Produce "Super-Weeds"

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[Biotech]
While there is virtually no debate in the U.S. over whether or not GM (Genetically Modified) foods are controversial (due in large part to biotech companies having influence over the media), elsewhere around the world it is. While the big corporations argue that modifying corn and other crops to be more resistant to disease and larger and faster-growing, has no negative side-effects, it appears this isn't so, and now GM crops are cross-pollinating with other plants, producing herbicide-resistant "super weeds."

Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed".

The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago.

The new form of charlock was growing among many others in a field which had been used to grow GM rape. When scientists treated it with lethal herbicide it showed no ill-effects.

Unlike the results of the original trials, which were the subject of large-scale press briefings from scientists, the discovery of hybrid plants that could cause a serious problem to farmers has not been announced.

The scientists also collected seeds from other weeds in the oilseed rape field and grew them in the laboratory. They found that two - both wild turnips - were herbicide resistant.

The five scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the government research station at Winfrith in Dorset, placed their findings on the department's website last week.

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