GM crop separation challenge highlighted

European environment agency report singles out oilseed rape as most likely source of gene contamination

Minimum separation distances for genetically modified crops should be increased to avoid gene transfer to conventional and wild relatives of commercially grown plants, concludes a new report from the European environment agency.

GM and non-GM crops will intermingle their genetic material "at higher frequencies and at greater distances than previously thought," it says. There are no EU rules requiring routine separation of GM crops.

No recommended distances for specific crop types are given, though oilseed rape is picked out as a particular "high-risk" threat. The authors predict that wild plants carrying modified genes conferring herbicide resistance will become common after the release of GM crops due to "gene stacking".

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