Back when the bright yellow flowers were still known as Rape or Oilseed rape, Brassica napus produced a bitter oil, unsuitable for human consumption and used mainly to lubricate machines. Canadian researchers bred an edible hybrid known as "Canadian Oilseed, Low-Acid" -- or Canola, for short. Today, Canola oil claims to be one of the healthiest cooking oils, with high Omega-3 levels. Increasing use of Canola as a biofuel further expands the market for this well-rounded agricultural product. So all is well, isn't it?
Enter agricultural giant Monsanto. Canola joined the growing list of plants which have been genetically modified for resistance to Monsanto herbicide Roundup. On Friday, a new study joined the growing list of evidence that environmental advocates were right to warn about engineered genes creeping into the natural flora. The scope and extent of the escape of man-modified genes demonstrated in this study demands a re-evaluation of the use of genetically engineered crops.
Researchers led by Cindy Sagers, of the University of Arkansas, sampled wild canola plants growing along North Dakota highways and roads. 86% of the plants sampled contained the altered genes. In two cases, the wild plants contained two different modified genes. Because no crop has ever been designed with more than one gene modified, this is evidence that the genes have already established themselves in the wild over several generations.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment