VARIETY OF SUPERWEED 'NOT UNCOMMON' IN CANADA
Weedy oilseed rape plants descended from genetically modified plants are "not uncommon" in Canada, according to a report compiled by English Nature, the United Kingdom's advisory body on conservation.
The plants carry genes making them resistant to three different herbicides, forcing farmers to employ older, stronger herbicides to get rid of them.
The plants descended from accidental crosses between crops and wild, weedy relatives. "This (gene spread) has happened in three or four years," English Nature's Brian Johnson told New Scientist.
A similar spread of herbicide resistance will be "almost impossible to prevent unless the crops are very widely dispersed," according to the report. Herbicide tolerant plants have also been created using conventional breeding. "(Genetically modified) crops are no different," said Paul Rylott of the biotech company Aventis.
But herbicide resistance in genetically engineered crops tends to be stronger than in their conventionally bred counterparts, Johnson said.
He also pointed out that the entire countryside is not in imminent danger of invasion. "They would only have an advantage in agricultural fields. But agricultural land is very important for biodiversity in Britain."
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