, Volume 66, Issue 1-2, pp 145-149

Risk assessment of genetically modified crops. Potential of four arable crops to hybridize with the wild flora

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The proposed introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment has caused public and scientific concern. In response to this concern governments have set up biosafety regulations. In this paper a step-by-step scheme is described by which the safety of genetically modified organisms can be assessed. The first step is to determine the level of safety concern for the unmodified organism. Important aspects of the safety concern of the unmodified organism are the potential to hybridize with the wild flora and the ability of the crop to run wild. These aspects have been investigated by a desk study for four agricultural crops (potato, beet, oilseed rape and maize). Maize and potato are genetically isolated from the wild flora. Beet and oilseed rape on the contrary can potentially hybridize with wild relatives in the Netherlands. The risk assessment of the latter two species should focus entirely on the effects of the introduced genetic material.