Early days with GMproject

17 December 1999

Early days with GMproject

USEFUL information on the performance of herbicide tolerant sugar beet and oilseed rape, including GM and non-GM types, has been gleaned from the first year of a major government/industry backed study.

Consultation with enviro-groups avoided vandalism and no sites were lost to weather problems, notes NIABs Jeremy Sweet, scientific co-ordinator of the Botanical and Rotational Implications of Genetically modified Herbicide Tolerance (BRIGHT) project.

The four year experiment was set up at five sites to assess the agricultural implications of such crops and develop management guidelines for their sustainable production. It is designed to complement the environmental impact work co-ordinated by the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops (SCIMAC).

"It is too early to give any results, because we need to look at the effects throughout the complete programme," says Dr Sweet. "In a sensitive area we cannot afford any leaks until we are ready to give the whole story."

Crops established well and gave acceptable yields. The herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate worked as expected and the trials confirmed their known strengths and weaknesses, he says.

"Some weeds have a degree of tolerance to them and others are very susceptible. Nothing in the trials changed that view."

The sites also include oilseed rape tolerant to imidazolinone herbicides bred by non-GM methods. Such crops are already widely grown in Canada (Arable, Dec 3).

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