18 December 1998

GMcrop study across Europe

MOVEMENT of genes from genetically modified crops to related wild species is to be investigated in detail under a new pan-European project.

The NIAB co-ordinated study will focus on the interaction of GM plants, their "foreign" genes, and their wild relatives. So far, more than £0.5m has been pledged to the European Science Foundation project which will bring together research groups from 19 European countries, ranging from Ireland to Russia.

Many of the scientists involved are already undertaking risk assessment research, including studies on the genetics, ecology, pathology and agronomy of GM crop plants and their wild relatives.

New projects will help determine the actual levels of gene-flow between crops and wild relatives.

"Now that large-scale releases and commercialisation of GM crops has started, meaningful studies can be conducted," comments ESFs Andrew Smith. "It is important that information from research is collated, analysed and shared with all European countries in time for considering both current and future releases."