Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Modified genes found in wild plant, possibly cross between GMOs

Kyodo News International, July 2 2010
TOKYO -- A type of wild Cruciferae [brassica vegetables, of the mustard family or cabbage family] growing near a national highway in Mie Prefecture has been found to have genes of a genetically modified rapeseed, possibly a result of crossing between the wild plants and imported rapeseeds that had fallen during transportation, a survey by a civic group said Friday.

There have been cases of interbreeding between genetically modified rapeseeds and normal rapeseeds for horticultural purposes in the past, the group said, but the latest finding of crossing between the wild plant, whose academic name is Rorippa indica which grows in the Southeast Asia regions including Japan, and the artificially modified ones could be the first case of intercrossing found in the wild in Japan.

''As the possibility that modified genes could spread among wildlife emerged, we are concerned that it could have an impact not only to farming products but also to ecosystems,'' said Masaharu Kawata, a Yokkaichi University lecturer who was involved in the survey.

The group conducted the survey in mid- and late June by collecting 14 samples of cruciferous plants in areas along Route 23 and found 13 of them having genes and proteins of herbicide-resistant rapeseeds developed by chemical manufacturers like Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON) and Bayer CropScience.

The state compiles a list of species that could interbreed and reviews the possible impact on the ecosystems. It has authorizing power for the use [import?] of such genetically modified plants but the plants in question have not been included in the list, according to the group.

The Environment Ministry's office for alien species management said if the interbreeding is officially confirmed, it will consider adding the plant to the list.

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