GM crops — OMG?

Genetically-modifed crops have never found the accept­ab­il­ity in Europe that they have in other parts of the World, not­ably the USA. There lots of reas­ons for this, ran­ging from ill-infomed two-headed mon­ster the­or­ies to much more con­sidered wor­ries about envir­on­mental impact. A recent post on Wired picks up on a January paper from BioScience look­ing at glyphosate-resistant “super­weeds” but accen­tu­ates the negative:

“Herbicide-resistant super­weeds threaten to over­grow U.S. fields, so agri­cul­ture com­pan­ies have genet­ic­ally engin­eered a new gen­er­a­tion of plants to with­stand heavy doses of mul­tiple, extra-toxic weed-killing chem­ic­als. It’s a more intens­ive ver­sion of the same approach that made the res­ist­ant super­weeds such a prob­lem — and some sci­ent­ists think it will fuel the evol­u­tion of the worst super­weeds yet.”

largely ignor­ing sci­entific advice that doesn’t fit in with a good story:

“This kind of res­ist­ance isn’t very wide­spread. It usu­ally has a fit­ness cost asso­ci­ated with it and doesn’t get to a high fre­quency in pop­u­la­tions“
“It is unlikely that the stacked herb­i­cide res­ist­ance traits and asso­ci­ated herb­i­cide use would push weed evol­u­tion towards a Lolium-type meta­bolic resistance”

So it looks likely that the hys­teria sur­round­ing GM crops is going to con­tinue for some time. After all, it does sell newspapers.

Navigating a Critical Juncture for Sustainable Weed Management. (2012) BioScience 62 (1): 75–84


Related: GM wheat sci­ent­ists at Rothamsted make plea to protesters


AJ Cann. ORCID 0000-0002-9014-3720

Alan Cann is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester and formerly Internet Consulting Editor for AoB.

Pin It on Pinterest

Liked this?

Be the first to share this post with your friends!