GM Canola Escapes

by

Photo by John O'Neill

Brassica napus, the plant from which canola oil is produced has recently become the poster child for the concerns about Genetically Modified organisms.  This is potentially the stuff of science fiction.  A genetically modified organism escapes from its confines to the world at large and threatens the human species with extinction.  Well, in this case there may be no real danger from the spread in the wild of canola plants, but alarms are being sounded as a warning for the inevitable day when a truly dangerous GMO makes its own jail break.  You can read about the specifics of the canola escape in this article, but in this case, the real concern is not the canola itself, but the fact that what GMO opponents have warned about, and GMO proponents have downplayed, has happened big time.  In North Dakota, 86% of the canola plants growing in the wild have been found to be genetically modified… 86%!

Now the canola’s GM traits probably do not pose any real danger to humans or even to other plants growing in North Dakota, but what if they did?  There would be no going back, no way to put the canola “back in the bag”.  Therein lies the danger that many people warn about.  In this case it appears that the canola has been reproducing in the wild for several generations, combining with other genetically modified plants.  Some of the canola examined by researchers contained not one, but two modified traits.  Because 2 traits have never been inserted into one species, finding two together indicates that two differently modified  plants have combined their genes to form a new genetic modification.

As is often the case with big agricultural stories like this, the main behind the scenes player appears to be Monsanto.  As with their Round Up Ready corn, Monsanto produces a Round Up Ready canola.  The idea is that the canola plants grown to produce canola oil can be sprayed with the chemical glyphosate, or Round Up, thereby making weed control cheaper.  Of course this raises the question of how much glyphosate is then in the canola oil itself.  I don’t know the answer to that, but I am glad I normally use organic olive oil myself.  As to what the 2nd modified trait was in the wild canola, that appears to be another Monsanto modification, the Liberty Gene.

In any case, this is more evidence that the warnings of escaping genetically modified organisms are to be heeded.  Someday a GM plant or animal with unwanted or even dangerous traits may escape.  How will we then get that one back into captivity….  or will be even have a prayer of doing so?

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Will Sig
1 Tony McGurk

All those science fiction movies come to mind. E specially”Attack of the kilter tomatoes” AAAIIIEEEEEE!!!!!
But seriously it just shows how scientists play around too much with that which they don’t know enough about with little regard to any future consequences. Just think of all the questionable scientific experiments going on around the world that we never hear of. Scary stuff

Reply

2 Tony

All those science fiction movies come to mind. E specially”Attack of the kilter tomatoes” AAAIIIEEEEEE!!!!!
But seriously it just shows how scientists play around too much with that which they don’t know enough about with little regard to any future consequences. Just think of all the questionable scientific experiments going on around the world that we never hear of. Scary stuff

Reply

3 Will

Hi Tony – Attack of the “kilter” tomatoes! Is that like psychopathic tomatoes from Scotland? 😉

And this week I heard about a genetically engineered salmon. Approved by the FDA though, so it MUST be safe. Yeah right, the FDA has such a great track record. Maybe I should do a post on this one.

Reply

Thank you for your comments

CommentLuv badge
My full comment policy is linked here, but please do not use a keyword as your name. For great referrrals and backlinks, link to your site in the box and by using CommentLuv

Previous post:

Next post: