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FW: for your information

To: Hardy_Plant@egroups.com
Subject: for your information

Press Release - Diversity, Vol.16, Nos.1&2, 2000
Ineradicable weeds may prove to be more science than fiction, in light
of a recent field study that documented the flow of a
transformed gene from an experimental creeping bentgrass (Agrostis
stolonifera L.) to related species. Moreover, pollen from
the genetically modified (GM), herbicide-resistant plants used in the
study traveled significantly further than anticipated, raising
concerns about the potential ecological impact and economic risks of
mass-producing GM turfgrass seed.
In an article in the current issue of DIVERSITY Magazine, Oregon
researchers Joseph K. Wipff and Crystal Rose Fricker of
Pure Seed Testing, Inc. describe the Willamette Valley field study and
its surprising results. During two years of trials, non-GM
plants surrounding a nursery of approximately 250 GM plants yielded seed
that produced plants with the transformed gene.
Pollen from the transgenic plants is known to have traveled as much as
958 feet, and is estimated to have traveled as much as
4,296 feet.
In the interspecific hybridization part of the study, accessions of A.
canina, A. capillaris, A. castellana, A. gigantea, and A.
pallens were placed in the transgenic nursery prior to flowering and
allowed to interpollinate. The transformed gene was
detected in the progeny of each of the five introduced Agrostis species.

The study also proved that cereal rye (Secale cereale L.)--which is
often used to successfully isolate tall fescue and perennial
ryegrass nurseries--was not an effective pollen barrier for creeping
bentgrass at the test location.
Creeping bentgrass is one of the highest-value turfgrass seed crops on
the U.S. market, and Oregon produces nearly all of the
bentgrass seed grown in the U.S. A perennial, wind-pollinated species
that is known to hybridize freely, creeping bentgrass may
be the first transgenic crop to be grown adjacent to naturalized and
native populations of cross-compatible perennial relatives
and native species.
As the article points out, the study illustrates the promise, as well as
the possible perils, of gene biotechnology. Although the
documentation of substantial pollen-flow distances and interspecific
hybridization of GM creeping bentgrass raise concerns, the
transgenic plants offer a unique opportunity to test and quantify
pollen-flow distances, since no other accurate methods of
verifying isolation distances have yet been developed. The research
could help seed-certifying agencies establish more accurate
production-field isolation distances and help APHIS create a
risk-assessment model for commercial production of transgenic
perennial, wind-pollinated crops.

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