Ontario Agri-Food Technologies – FAQs

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Can transgenic plants become weeds in other crops if they are herbicide resistant?

This is correct and has to be addressed by bodies such as Agriculture Canada.

It also depends very much on the crop and the gene that is inserted into that crop. For example, canola is mainly self fertilizing and the chances of pollination from one field to the next is small although cross fertilization can occur around the margins of a field. Separating transgenic fields can minimize the effect to low levels.

A more important problem with canola is the shattering of the seed pods. This occurs either before or when the crop is harvested and releases seeds into the soil where they can over-winter and grow the following year. This can cause a significant level of contamination and, if a farmer were to grow a different crop with the same herbicide resistance, he would have problems.

Clearly, for herbicide resistance, it is necessary to know the history of the field and design a succession of crops that avoid this problem. It is a fundamental need for better crop management.

The terminator gene would be a good solution to this problem.

Do herbicide resistant crop plants cause any environmental problems?

It is highly unlikely that herbicide resistant crop plants will cause any environmental problems since crop plants are not effective competitors in the wild and the herbicide resistant gene confers no advantage in the absence of herbicides.

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