Genetic Contamination May Not Mean What You Think It Means

(This post originally appeared on Sustainablog on 8/1/11)

In the debate about GMO crops, the “threat of genetic contamination” is often raised as a reason  to reject the technology.  Is this threat real?  Does it justify acts of vandalism?  Could it lead to the “End of Organics“?  Is it actually an over-blown issue?  To answer these questions it is necessary to put this issue in the context of basic plant biology.

What We Are Talking About Is Really Just “Plant Sex”

“Genetic Contamination” is an emotional term which obscures the fact that the underlying biological process in question is quite normal, natural and highly necessary. All living species, need to be able to reproduce.  They also need to generate the genetic diversity that will allow the species to adapt and evolve as needed to survive.  Plants can’t move, so to “mate” with other plants of their species they have to find ways to spread the male sexual cells (pollen) to the female reproductive cells (the ovaries in the female parts of flowers).  Some plant do this with the help of pollinators – the bees, flies, butterflies, birds, etc.  These helpful agents incidentally move pollen around.  Other plants simply rely on wind to move their pollen to other flowers.  This is the case with most “grain crops” like wheat, barley, oats, corn etc.

“Cross pollination” is the accurate, unemotional, term for this process.  GMO crops participate in cross pollination in exactly the same way that non-GMO plants do and always have.

What Do You Get If You Cross A … With A …

Perhaps we have heard too many such jokes, because many people believe that the genes from GMO plants have the potential to “contaminate” all manner of natural species or “Organic” crops The fact is that if you “crossed a chicken with an octopus” you wouldn’t get “drumsticks for everybody.” You would get nothing.  The same is true for plant species.  They do not cross pollinate (or contaminate) other anything except extremely closely related plants.

There are some cases where a very closely related, “weedy” sub-species can cross with a crop (e.g. cultivated sunflowers with wild sunflowers), but those issues were anticipated long before GMO crops were introduced.  For that very reason, no GMO sunflowers have been introduced in the US.

GMO crops have no greater or lesser ability to move genes to other species.  Those sorts of fears are groundless.

Crops Where Cross Pollination is A Management Issue

Long before the advent of GMO crops, farmers of certain crops have had to manage “genetic contamination” issues involving normal cross pollination.  Wheat is wind pollinated and farmers commonly save part of their crop each year to serve as seed for the next (“saved seed”).  Wheat is also a crop with very specific quality characteristics for its various uses (raised breads, flat breads, crackers, pastries, noodles…).  New wheat varieties are bred for those specific uses.  There is a network of dedicated wheat seed growers who produce “certified seed” with enough isolation from other wheat so that the seed they produce is >95% the desired variety.  If a farmer plants that certified seed (usually at a small cost above current grain price), the crop he/she produces will be what is desired for the end use.  If the farmer saves some of that crop and plants it a second year, it will be less pure because of cross pollination from neighboring fields.  After a few years, it is necessary for the farmer to buy new certified seed because his/her own supply is “contaminated.”  There are many more examples like this for “saved seed” crops.

Hybrid seeds are grown by dedicated seed growers and purchased by the farmers every year.  This system insures both genetic purity for specific needs and the extra vigor and yield potential that hybridization enables.

Whether it is a “saved seed” crop or a hybrid crop, GMO versions create no new issues beyond what farmers have always been managing.  It only becomes an issue when someone wants to set a zero tolerance unlike the rational tolerances that have made all of these crops work for a very long time.

Crops Where Cross Pollination is Irrelevant

A few years ago there was a ballot initiative in Mendocino, California to ban GMO crops from that county.  It was driven by concerns about “genetic contamination” of the Organic farms (many supporters didn’t understand the paragraph above).   The fact that there were not even GMO crops that were likely to ever be planted in this particular county was seemingly irrelevant to the debate.  I was talking with a PhD level scientist that worked for one of the wineries there, and asked why that company was supporting the ban.  She said it was because of concerns about how the genetic contamination risk could hurt their sales.  I was stunned because, as a scientist, she certainly knew that grapes are never grown from seed but rather “vegetatively propagated.”  If you take a seed from a Cabernet grape and plant it, you will not grow a Cabernet.  It will be some new variety, just as when humans have children, they are each a unique new combination of their mother’s and father’s genes.  For thousands of years farmers have known how to take cuttings of desirable fruits and get them to root, or how to take buds of the desired fruit variety and graft it onto a rootstock.  The grapes in Mendocino county had been propagated that way for centuries.  A block of Cabernet planted next to a block of Chardonnay is not a “genetic contamination” issue, because the seed is never planted.  This same principle applies to almost all fruit and to other vegetatively reproduced crops like potatoes, cassava, sweet potatoes, sugarcane and many others.  GMO versions of these crops would not represent any “genetic contamination risk”  at all.  That is why it is so sad and absurd that activists in France destroyed a GMO grapevine trial because of needless “contamination” fears.

Genetic Contamination: An Intentionally Overplayed Issue?

On several occasions I have written directly to individual, anti-GMO scientists, at Greenpeace and elsewhere, asking specific questions about how they imagine that a particular crop could represent a “genetic contamination risk.”  I have never received an answer with any scientific justification or even a plausible “what if” scenario.  Presuming that these individuals understand basic plant biology, they apparently choose not to acknowledge it in their public campaigns.

What is really going on (“cross pollination”) is a vital, natural process.  Farmers and the plant breeders who serve them have long been able to harness the positive potential of this genetic exchange to breed for improved varieties.  They have also been able to fully manage the cases where cross pollination could cause a genetic purity problem for the crop.  GMO crops have not changed this in any fundamental way that cannot be dealt with by rational decision making and regulation.

You are welcome to comment here or to email me at savage.sd@gmail.com.  My website is Applied Mythology

Pollinator fly (bee mimic) image from Savvey’s Photography Photostream

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Steve Savage is an agricultural scientist (plant pathology) with >30 years of experience in agricultural technology. He has worked for Colorado State University, DuPont (fungicide development), Mycogen (biocontrol development), and for the past 13 years as an independent. He also has a little vineyard in his back yard near San Diego. His speaking websiet is :"His blogging website is Applied Mythology. You can follow him on Twitter @grapedoc


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173 comments to Genetic Contamination May Not Mean What You Think It Means

  • Dear Dr. Savage:

    Let me preface by saying your article was wonderful. I do think you may have missed the point of contention some have with GM plants, however. Some of the “modified” or “added” genes in some varieties of GM plants are the intellectual property of the respective corporations which paid to have them developed. There are instances of these corporations, after having found their “property” within the genetic makeup of non-GM crops of nearby farms, forcing the farmers to destroy the crops, prohibiting the farmers from selling the crops, and making the saving of that seed impossible. I believe that the main issue with GM organisms isn’t one of safety – but one of whether or not living things and their components can be said to be the intellectual property of a corporation or entity to the detriment of those farmers who wish to save seed.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.

    Sincerely,

    Mike King
    Eustis, FL
    mike@roborat.net

    • Hi Mike

      You brought up a couple of issues with intellectual property and saving seed. Here is an example of a court case where the defendant is often heralded as an example of someone who had GM property found in his non-GM crop. However, he was never really able to explain how his non-GM crop ended up being over 90% GM. A reading of the case shows that he chose to plant canola that he knew, or ought to have known, was GM canola on his land.

      Quotes from the ruling in the Supreme Court of Canada case:

      Mr. Schmeiser complained that the original plants came onto his land without his intervention. However, he did not at all explain why he sprayed Roundup to isolate the Roundup Ready plants he found on his land; why he then harvested the plants and segregated the seeds, saved them, and kept them for seed; why he planted them; and why, through his husbandry, he ended up with 1,030 acres of Roundup Ready canola which would have cost him $15,000.

      http://scc.lexum.org/en/2004/2004scc34/2004scc34.pdf

      Quote from the original trial:
      However, I am persuaded by evidence of Dr. Keith Downey, an expert witness appearing for the plaintiffs, that none of the suggested sources (proposed by Schmeiser) could reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality evident from the results of tests on Schmeiser’s crop. His view was supported in part by evidence of Dr. Barry Hertz, a mechanical engineer, whose evidence scientifically demonstrated the limited distance that canola seed blown from trucks in the road way could be expected to spread. I am persuaded on the basis of Dr. Downey’s evidence that on a balance of probabilities none of the suggested possible sources of contamination of Schmeiser’s crop was the basis for the substantial level of Roundup Ready canola growing in field number 2 in 1997.

      http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/2001/2001fct256/2001fct256.html

      I don’t know all the instances to which you were referring, however, my personal opinion is these instances where the companies were “forcing the farmers to destroy the crops, prohibiting the farmers from selling the crops, and making the saving of that seed impossible” end up being like this case – a situation where the individual knew exactly what they were doing and the “incidental presence” of GM in their field ends up being a significant presence. (see my profile for my obvious bias and disclaimer).

      • Richard,
        thanks for those good references. Actually, no one needs to feel sorry for Mr. Schmeiser. He parlayed this illegal act into folk hero status in the anti-GMO community. In that regard he is much like the vandals of Greenpeace. Break the law and get “cred” for it.

  • Mike,

    Are you a farmer, or do you live in a rural area? Just wondering, on account of a lot of things you claim either didn’t happen, or won’t happen. Real farmers are completely on top with these issues, and I suspect you haven’t gotten your information from people who grow food for a living. Unless they’re organic farmers, in which case you only hear their advertising and their politics.

    • The article referred to above provides an example of how the narrative changes, as I disucss in my August 8 post above. In the article the following comment is made:

      “Because Monsanto has sued US and Canadian farmers in the past when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops, the organic plaintiffs decided to sue Monsanto preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.”

      This comment leaves me with the impression that, as Mike states, “There are instances of these corporations, after having found their “property” within the genetic makeup of non-GM crops of nearby farms, forcing the farmers to destroy the crops, prohibiting the farmers from selling the crops, and making the saving of that seed impossible.”

      However, there is a hyperlink in the article, presumably as a reference supporting the comment. The link takes us to a story on a lawsuit in the US. The linked story states the following:

      “Over a decade ago, Monsanto sued two brothers who farm in Arkansas, John and Paul Mayfield, for saving and replanting 800 bushels of Roundup Ready soybeans.”

      Again, as I stated above, in my opinion this shows that this was not an “inadvertent contamination” but rather someone who knew what they were doing. There was nothing inadvertent. Yes, they appear to have been sued, but based on the underlying link it doesn’t look like it was an indavertent presence in their field.

      • Henry Kuska

        Richard, yes, that link to the Mayfield case (and a number of unrelated stories) by the “again in court story” link was probably not a good choice if they intended to show inadvertent contamination.
        ———————————————
        The following review published in “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences” is the latest that I could find from what I would consider a non biased source (and to which the full paper is available to the public).
        ———————————————
        “The main environmental concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops are the potential weediness or invasiveness in the crop itself or in its wild or weedy relatives as a result of transgene movement. Here we briefly review evidence for pollen- and seed mediated gene flow from GM crops to non-GM or other GM crops and to wild relatives.”
        ————————————
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04576.x/pdf
        ———————————————-

        • Eric Baumholder

          Henry,

          The problems you mention have existed since at least 1950, and the solutions equally old.

          Sorghum + johnsongrass = shattercane. Weeds and pests becoming resistant to crop protection products, literally hundreds of them. And so on.

          GM crops do not pose novel risks to agriculture.

          • Henry Kuska

            Eric Baumholder on August 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm stated:”Henry,

            The problems you mention have existed since at least 1950, and the solutions equally old.”
            ————————–
            H.Kuska?? What problems did I mention? Do you mean the authors of the above review?
            ================================
            Eric stated: “GM crops do not pose novel risks to agriculture.”
            ——————————–
            H.Kuska comment. Is that what you conslude from reading the review? If you conclude that from another source(s), please share.

            • Henry,

              My point is that it is not good to interpret the paper you cite as evidence that issues regarding GM crops are novel, or greater than, farming in general.

              If the factuality of what I say is not immediately apparent, you should read the books on the list at the AgBiotech Bookshelf, which you can find at
              http://www.agbioworld.org/newsletter_wm/index.php?caseid=archive&newsid=2833

              Happy reading!

              • Henry Kuska

                ——————————-
                Eric Baumholder on August 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm stated: “Henry, …………………..If the factuality of what I say is not immediately apparent, you should read the books on the list at the AgBiotech Bookshelf, which you can find at
                http://www.agbioworld.org/newsletter_wm/index.php?caseid=archive&newsid=2833
                —————————-
                H.Kuska reply. Thank you for the web link. I am particulary interested in any specific “pertinent” reviewed scientific literature that has been published since the time period covered by the review that I presented. I am also interested in any specific comments pertaining to points made in the review.

            • Henry,
              I attended meetings in the mid 1980s where biologists of all types got together and thought through the ramifications of GM crops (10 or more years before they were commercialized). The potential for enhanced weediness was one of many topics considered. What it takes to make something an “invasive weed” is quite well known. Most crops are so wimpy they would never make a good weed, but still care was taken. That is why there are no GMO sunflowers in the US. Wild sunflowers are a weed (though not even a very bad one) and making them insect resistant could have increased their weediness. So, it was never pursued. If you look at the crops that are GMO, they are not weedy and most don’t even have any wild relatives that could become weedy. Bentgrass was another issue, and the decision is still pending. I’d rather that it was only GMO if in a sterile form.

              • Steve,

                The neat-o thing about bentgrass — in light of your remark about sterile bentgrass — is that it’s easily propagated via rootstock. No seeds necessary. Talk to the groundskeeper at any golf course, and you can hear all about it.

                With regular water and mowing an area regularly, bentgrass will crowd out basically everything else. On the golf course, that is. In the wild, bentgrass is pitifully vulnerable to nearly everything.

                The reason why GM bentgrass is regulated differently than GM bluegrass, is that bentgrass got caught in a bunch of legal wrangling.

          • Henry Kuska

            —————————————–
            Eric Baumholder stated on August 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm: “GM crops do not pose novel risks to agriculture.”
            ———————————————
            H.Kuska comment. Does’t the paper given below describe a “novel” risk of GM rice relative to non GM rice?
            ————————————–
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1001074208624626
            ————————————–
            Background from full paper: “The transgenic rice line Ke-Ming-Dao (KMD), derived from Xiushui 11 (Xs11) through transformation, harbors a synthetic cry1Ab gene from B. thuringiensis linked in tandem with the gusA, hpt (hygromycin phosphotransferase) and npt II (neomycin phosphotransferase II) genes under the control of a maize ubiquitin promoter (Shu et al., 1998).”

  • Eric:

    I am an avid gardener (not quite amateur – I do grow a portion of my own food) and do live in a rural area. I garner my information from as many places as possible, but I admit I don’t have tete-a-tetes with large, professional farmers. Are you a professional farmer? If you are, what is your opinion of the intellectual property rights of corporations in relation to GM foods? With regards to the advertising and politics of organic and non-organic – I take all I hear with a grain of salt (there are very few people that I’ve met who are pure of any influence from politics or current popular product). I think that GM foods are the natural end product of our technological progress. The process itself is very similar to generations of hand breeding to create the wide range of brassicas we have today from the wild cabbage – with one difference, the end product is no longer “common grounds” available for research and breeding by independent growers. My concern isn’t with the process of GM foods, but with the potential abuse of discoveries by the select few large corporations who own individual genes. An interesting model, in my opinion, is a General Purpose License such as is used in the software industry. What is your take?

    Sorry for the long comment!
    Thanks,
    Mike.

    • Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by, your comments are thoughtful and unique. How would a General Purpose License work, do you think, as applied to patented traits in crops? I am not familiar with it, but very willing to learn. The concept of patents, as developed for inventions, doesn’t seem to mesh well with living reproducing, recombining organisms. For instance, utility patents are based on strict liability, where even one plant in millions is technically a violation of patent (though the seed companies say they will not sue over something like that, and don’t). I’m definitely interested to hear what other ideas people have for how to make these thinks work better.

      • Karl:

        I suppose this discussion all breaks down to personal philosophy. I just feel uneasy about plant material shifting from “common heritage” to “private property.” There is something off-putting about DNA snippets being proprietary. GM as an agent of natural selection isn’t an issue for me (the only difference is our ability to transport BETWEEN species rather than amongst the same species). I can’t envision the specifics (I’m neither a lawyer nor a biologist) but I’m trying to work through how such a valuable resource as plant germplasm availability could fit a framework along the same lines as the open source software community. I admit the analogy leaves something to be desired (software doesn’t feed people) but it’s the best I’ve got. It seems as thought some GM in plants (such as the Roundup Ready 1 and 2) should in essence be able to be proprietary – its trait is valuable because you can spray a specific herbicide on it and it doesn’t die. It also seems that traits such as increased yield, tolerance to drought, resistance to disease, should NOT be proprietary – traits such as these should be added to the common heritage of the farming community. I know this sounds naive and idealistic – but it was just a thought.

        • Mike,

          The history and current structure of IP protection of plant material is complicated (and I have yet to get a good handle on it myself) but I know there are a lot of different groups within industry that are trying to push and pull the conversation in different directions – for every company or individual that wants to protect THEIR technology more, there’s a competitor who wants to protect it less. The whole point of IP protection is to encourage inventors to create new ideas and technologies and to release them into the public domain (e.g. instead of keeping them as trade secrets) – by rewarding them with a few years of monopoly access. I don’t know if anyone really knows what balance of IP instruments will do this optimally, but it’s an important conversation for us all to have.

        • Ewan R

          It also seems that traits such as increased yield, tolerance to drought, resistance to disease, should NOT be proprietary

          But these are all valuable traits which cost money to get off the ground – I work for Monsanto, in the Yield & Stress division, specifically on Nitrogen use efficiency (and my views here are mine, not those of the company!)- the traits we are developing are simply far harder to invent, test and prove that they are working than things like RR or Bt. If the RR trait, or Bt traits are patentable I am not sure that I can see why you wouldn’t also think that the same value etc applies (RR would almost have had a better arguement for not being patentable while Roundup was still under patent as use of the gene was an automatic money maker for the inventors regardless – it increased glyphosate sales enormously)

          I think it also needs to be kept in mind that patents do expire, and these inventions do all have the potential to add to the common heritage of the farming community – we are however still in the infancy of the technology, patents haven’t dropped yet – that is just around the corner – it will be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out once patents do start dropping – regulatory agencies around the world will then hold the key as to whether corporations retain ultimate control of GM traits or whether we will enter a new agricultural model where the older traits are available essentially for free with only the new high end traits being something which corporations can make a buck off.

          Also it should be kept in mind that by and large the regulatory situation is one thing that keeps GM tech firmly in the hand of large agribusiness, and firmly restricted to big cash crops – to get this technology firmly as part of the heritage of farming this, rather than IP, is I feel something that needs to be addressed better (it would appear to me at least that the vast regulatory costs actually work out very nicely for Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer et al – not so well for academics however)

          Richard already covered the seed saving piece rather well – but I’d add – these traits are not at all to the detriment of farmers unless they actively choose to save seed that contains the trait – seed saving otherwise is unaffected (and it’s not really a very good farmer who just saves seed willy nilly anyway – selective breeding requires a certain level of selection – a certain level of protection of your good material from contamination from outside (because genetic contamination is sorta meaningful if your inbreds are getting crossed to the wrong partners regardless of their status as GMOs or not – or your OP varieties crossing to something altogether unsatisfactory)

          • Ewan:

            Thank you for your thoughts. If the past abilities of large corporations to maintain footholds on proprietary formulations by lobbying for changes in regulations are any mark of how well they do in the future, I’m sure Monsanto will have no problem with the expiration of their patents. The Roundup 2 is hot on the heels of the expiration of Roundup 1 – just like a pharmaceutical company losing patent on a formulation, you can always make more money with the release of a second drug (e.g., extended release formula). I’m sure the R&D of these traits is very expensive – and much more efficient than a generation of farmers choosing traits through artificial selection. I’ve gained so much good insight and information from the comment thread – the situations are not so cut and dry as I once thought. I’m in the process of reading a paper in the UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper Series (“Free Seeds, Not Free Beer”: Participatory Plant Breeding, Open Source Seeds, and Ackowledging user Innovation in Agriculture). The regulations on patenting of plant genetic resources are, to say the least, difficult to follow. To be frank, I’ve always had an ominous feeling when I hear the name Monsanto, but as I said, you all have shown me that these issues aren’t so cut and dry. I look forward to being able to continue to gain more information from here!

            • Ewan R

              Mike – you’re correct, RR2 (and the variations in each crop) will keep cash rolling in for Monsanto (as will stacks, new HT genes, Yield traits, water and nitrogen traits, awesome germplasm etc), there is no doubt about that – however in the next 2 years (if I remember right, and regulars will recall that I rarely do) for the first time in the history of the RR franchise there will be a legal, non-corporate controlled option for glyphosate resistance in soybean (and subsequent years will see corn, cotton etc fall off patent also – I haven’t seen any news around these though – RR soybean appears to be the flagship of the patent expiry world) – all of a sudden the 90%+ of the market which is a revenue flow for Monsanto (through either direct sales, or through licensing agreements with other seed companies) will be hard fought – RR2Y vs RR original – Monsanto have to hope that the advantages of 2Y are enough to warrant the licensing fee – and, in my opinion, farmers will have to hope that regulatory bodies act sensibly and either come up with a plan to maintain regulatory approval for RR beans, or simply scrap the necessity for recurrant approval beyond the period which Monsanto has promised to maintain the approval (which is a number of years – but not indefinite) – this really shouldnt be an issue for something approved for well over a decade, and will ultimately lead to the exact end result that patents are designed for – inventions profiting the inventor but then being publicly owned.

              Personally I look forward to seeing how it plays out, I’m optimistic that all the hoo-hah about seed saving etc will suffer a pretty fatal blow if it all goes well, but fear that the very side of the debate which plays the seed saving card will also fight tooth and nail to maintain the need for regulatory approval while simultaneously fighting against public funding to do so – thus playing right into the hands of industry by in essence ensuring that the life span of any trait lasts only a few years from patent expiry.

              • Ewan,

                I don’t see why this can’t work the same way it works for ag chemicals that go off-patent. Any company can then commercialize them, but they have to support their registration either alone or in concert with others. They are able to negotiate with the original company for access to their data package.

                The biggest limitation to RR-1 in the future is the same as for RR-2: glyphosate tolerant weeds. That is manageable with other herbicides and with coming herbicide tolerance stacks, but it does change things. Everyone involved (Monsanto, the other companies, farmers) needs to be highly responsible with resistance management mainly to protect these tools as a way to do no-till farming

                • I have a feeling that the registration for transgenics may cost more, significantly more, thus making it a tough prospect – keep in mind (and here I may simply be speaking purely proctologically, if so I apologize!) that for a transgenic trait you have to maintain regulatory approval in all major markets, regardless of how nuts the regulatory bodies decide to be about things.

                  Perhaps the Ag chemical model will work perfectly well (on a personal level I’d rather the tech was free and clear – if only to utterly remove the Monsanto connection as anything other than prior owner – retention of this link clearly leaves an automatic write-off in the minds of many, on a professional level I welcome the prospect of the extra money and therefore job security the sale of data packages may generate…)

                  • Original Ag chem data packages cost something like $250 million. Those for biotech crops are more on the order of $25 million. I don’t have values for buying data packages later, but the proportions must be similar.

                    Your anti-Monsanto bias here is not really relevant to the food supply unless you are a farmer who is supplying food on the scale of most of the folks who have been using these technologies for 15 years.

                    • My desire to remove anti-monsanto bias (and not my anti-Monsanto bias, which would be a rather silly thing for me to have!)is purely an issue of moving the debate somewhere else, rather than leaving a door open – obviously rather meaningless in the bigger picture, but important to me if only to shut people the hell up about nefarious corporate involvement.

                      I think I also have my wording somewhat muddled above – I had intended to be waffling on about re-registration, rather than the initial registration – however given the figures you cite I’d guess that I’m utterly wrong in this respect also – I have no clear idea of the dollar value, just a nebulous idea that it is prohibitively expensive (and or difficult)- perhaps this is not the case (indeed given the figures you cite it would appear that it ain’t)

                      Perhaps re-registration will go forwards as a collaboration between the other major players in biotech – cost sharing the registration probably would cost more than the licensing of the trait from a single entity, and would (I guess) leave open the option to license out to other companies – although given the model as it stands (with Monsanto maintaining registration and nobody paying anyone else) I don’t know how the system would deal with this – it appears that for a transgenic a single registrant allows anyone to utilize the trait – with the protection being the patent, rather than requiring each manufacturer to register the trait individually.

          • I’m sorry, I should have cited that paper better. It can be found at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1390273

  • Henry Kuska

    One question that I have (based on my rose breeding background) is what happens if I breed a GM plant with another plant and can show that my offspring has one or more property(ies) superior to the original GM plant? Do I have any legal rights? In rose breeding I can breed with a patented rose and can patent offspring if I can show differences.
    ————————————————
    This article seems to be saying that the GM patents will never expire.
    http://www.grist.org/sustainable-food/2011-03-31-reversing-roles-organic-farmers-sue-monsanto-over-gmo-seeds
    Any comments?

    • Henry,
      GM patents definitely expire just like any other patent. The rose breeding scenario you describe is what is called a “showing” in patent parlance. If you can demonstrate an effect of the combination which is not expected based on “the previous art” then you can get a new patent. This happens all the time with claims of synergy etc. That is not all that easy to do, but it definitely happens. So for instance if you bred a rose that made much larger blooms or blooms with extended vase-life if sprayed with glyphosate, that might be completely unexpected and you could get a patent. Of course, there are no commercial glyphosate tolerant roses as far as I know, but it wouldn’t be that hard to generate one.

      • Henry Kuska

        Steve here is a summary of concerns concerning Lilly:

        http://www.actahort.org/books/900/900_18.htm

        I no longer belong to the International Society for Horticultural Science (cutting back memberships due to advanced retirement) so I only have the abstract. I should warn the readers that although the charge for the full paper is very reasonable, sometimes their full papers have been a disappointment to me (not much more than the abstract).

        • Reading the paper it would appear that trait owners generally allow research (in lily at least) but require further approval for commercialization, furthermore there are other barriers to the use of transgenes in lily (clonal reproduction would require calibration of the whole transformation system on a per cultivar basis, cultivar popularity varies such that by the time you have a transgenic it probably has no commercial value) – it certainly appears, to me, upon reading this that you’d run into trouble if you utilized a transgene which you didn’t have freedeom to operate with regardless of the characteristics of the end progeny.

    • Henry – regarding your first question you’d be infringing on the patent, so you’d have to destroy your work, turn it over, or rise to international fame amongst the green community and go on global tours telling folk how Monsanto destroyed your life. You wouldnt however as far as I am aware fall foul of variety patents.

      On the second part – that is unadulterated horse shit pure and simply (as the comments section of the piece points out) – hardly surprising from Grist.

    • Oh yeah, I can comment on the Grist blog post – as a matter of fact I did and I called out Tom Laskawy for making stuff up completely. Bizarrely, he admitted that he was wrong but it didn’t matter because he was right anyway. (what?) When in doubt – doubt what you read about GE on Grist.org.

      The first Roundup-Ready soy gene will go off-patent in 2014, and Monsanto has announced that yes, farmers can save seed and keep growing it (but breeders beware if the varieties they are bred into have plant patents on them). I have no doubt that generic RR soy will be available, and that there will be some germplasm with it that will be available for breeders to use. Heck, I’ve been tempted to do some research and find some when the time comes so I could literally walk around and hand them out to people. Might be interesting at a talk against GMOs.

      What I’m really curious about is when the Flavr Savr tomato gene goes off-patent, as it was the first GE crop commercialized, and so should theoretically go off-patent sooner.

    • Henry Kuska

      Here is a link to a Reuters article that discusses the gm products coming off of patent.

      I do not understand the significance of the following:
      ————————————–
      “Monsanto said last summer it would maintain export approval status for Roundup Ready soybeans through 2021, four years longer than it pledged initially.”

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/13/usa-crops-biotech-idUSN137431020110113
      —————————————
      i.e. if they no longer hold the patent, how can they “maintain export approval status for Roundup Ready soybeans through 2021..? (whatever that means).

      • Henry Kuska

        ——————————————-
        Another article concerning the lawsuit:
        —————————————–
        http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/lawsuit-seeks-to-invalidate-monsanto%E2%80%99s-gmo-patents/
        —————————————-
        There is a section about “double patenting”. Sorry, I could not copy and paste, but I would be interested in comments about this point.

        • Henry,
          It seems to me that the post to which you linked is simply a litany of every debunked or baseless claim about GMOs with nothing specific to why a patent should be invalidated. It does not look like the sort of case that a patent lawyer would ever file seriously. My guess is that it is a publicity thing.

          • Henry Kuska

            —————————
            Steve Savage stated on August 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm · “Henry,
            It seems to me that the post to which you linked is simply a litany of every debunked or baseless claim about GMOs with nothing specific to why a patent should be invalidated. It does not look like the sort of case that a patent lawyer would ever file seriously. My guess is that it is a publicity thing.”
            ——————————-
            H.Kuska comment. The lawsuit (revised) is available at:
            http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OSGATA-v-Monsanto-Complaint.pdf
            ————————
            Another related court action:
            http://www.sctimes.com/article/20110726/NEWS01/107250054/Court-Pesticide-drift-could-trespassing-violation

            • I agree with Steve about the publicity thing. The Supreme Court has already ruled on the validity of the patents, so they would have a huge uphill battle to actually accomplish what they say they want to. There has been a lot of talk about Monsanto suing the pants off of organic farmers in connection with this lawsuit, but no examples have been given. Steve did qualify his comment with the word ‘seriously’ so a link to the lawsuit being filed is not an argument against that statement.

              That being said, I think the seed companies should determine, and announce what percentage of GE seed in someone’s fields constitutes reason to sue for patent infringement. This is information that would benefit everyone in this debate – and it seems part of the impetus in this lawsuit is that they are worried that they would be sued (though they would not) if a single seed was found on their land.

              Food Freedom is worse than Grist.

              • Henry Kuska

                Karl Haro von Mogel stated on August 11, 2011 at 6:18 am · “……… Steve did qualify his comment with the word ‘seriously’ so a link to the lawsuit being filed is not an argument against that statement.”
                ———————————–
                H.Kuska comment. The first link that I gave was a description of the lawsuit through the eyes of a group that probably would not qualify as a “disinterested third party” by many of the readers here. Steve’s comments probably could be viewed by some as also not of a “disinterested third party”. Providing a link to the actual lawsuit, without further comment, is intended to allow each reader to see the complete lawsuit that is the basis for my first link and Steve’s comments, no less, no more.

                • Henry Kuska

                  —————————————–
                  This long article (in of all places – Vanity Fair – would this be considered a disinterested third party?) may provide the reader with background information as to why some feel that a lawsuit was needed.
                  —————————
                  http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805#gotopage1
                  ————————-

                  • Sorry – I can’t let the thread end on the Vanity Fair article – especially as it is brought up as “background information as to why some feel that a lawsuit was needed.” The article at no time discusses “genetic contamination” of a field. The article brings up lawsuits involving Monsanto, in particular Gary Rinehart and Pilot Grove Co-op.

                    In Vanity Fair artice Gary Rinehart doesn’t mention that he owned land on which someone was growing saved Roundup Ready seed. He also doesn’t mention that the person growing the seed was his nephew Tim Rinehart.

                    http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/gary-rinehart.aspx

                    In the case of Pilot Grove Co-op, the co-op admitted to patent infringement when they were cleaning Roundup Ready soybeans for customers.

                    http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/pilot-grove-coop.aspx

                    Both cases are, in my opinion, examples of how the narrative changes. Neither case is an example of genetic contamination. Both involve saving patented seed. In the case of Gary Rinehart, it was Gary’s nephew farming on his land. Yet both are brought up in the case cited by Henry as reasons why organic growers need to file this lawsuit.

                    My personal observations are that the only cases I can find where anyone is suing anyone over “genetic contamination” are organic growers suing others. There is the case Henry cited in the United States and there is the case of the Australian Steve Marsh suing his neighbor because he alleges that he lost organic certification when GM canola was found in his organic wheat field. This does not appear to support the notion that “Big Ag” is using “strong arm” tactics going after the little guys for genetic contamination.

                    Again, my opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect that of my employer. The notion that Big Ag is going after people who have incidental presence of GM on their fields irks me personally because that is what I used to believe before investigating it more. I don’t like being duped.

                    • Henry Kuska

                      Richard R., often threads develop subthreads. Your links to Monsanto’s sides of the stories are just that: “Monsanto’s side of the story”. The links are worth presenting, but they should not, in my opinion, by themselves, to be considered “gospel”.
                      ——————————
                      As I interpret the Vanity Fair article, the authors did ask Monsanto for their side of the story:
                      ————————–
                      “When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically, other than to say that the company is simply protecting its patents. “Monsanto spends more than $2 million a day in research to identify, test, develop and bring to market innovative new seeds and technologies that benefit farmers,” Monsanto spokesman Darren Wallis wrote in an e-mailed letter to Vanity Fair. “One tool in protecting this investment is patenting our discoveries and, if necessary, legally defending those patents against those who might choose to infringe upon them.” Wallis said that, while the vast majority of farmers and seed dealers follow the licensing agreements, “a tiny fraction” do not, and that Monsanto is obligated to those who do abide by its rules to enforce its patent rights on those who “reap the benefits of the technology without paying for its use.” He said only a small number of cases ever go to trial.”

                    • Henry said “they should not, in my opinion, by themselves, to be considered “gospel”.”

                      I agree Henry, however, neither should the vanity fair article be considered “gospel” which was the reason for my post.

  • Eric Baumholder

    Karl,

    One proud legacy of US land-grant universities is producing cultivars for farmers. It would be a great project to take the off-patent RR technology and combine it with university-bred elite germplasm.

    It would be so totally awesome to see ISU compete with the multinationals!

    A few years back at an ag convention (ASTA?) in Chicago I bumped into a lonely-looking ISU scientist who was trying to get people interested in a soy cultivar that lacked that ‘unique soy flavor’, which is actually highly non-tasty. Combine that with the RR trait and you might have a niche for soy-based snacks.

    Heck, there might even be some interest among urban gardeners, if there’s an appealing recipe or two. Urbanites already have easy access to glyphosate.

    Also, what’s the likelihood that the off-patent RR gene construct could be isolated and introduced into things other than soybeans? From a legal standpoint that is likely possible, but from the tech point of view… well, GM technology moves so fast, it’s hard to keep up.

    Just thinkin’

    • Ewan R

      Eric – taking the gene out and sticking it in something else would be doable no doubt (the sequence is right there in the patent, any half way competent molecular biology undergrad should be able to isolate it, may take a touch more skill to stick it into something else and make it work) but the problem that would be run into is again the regulatory hurdle – your new transgenic would not be approved anywhere and you’d likely run afoul of the law releasing it (it would technically no longer be the same event, so even if you removed it from soybean and reinserted it you’d run into this issue – strange but true)

      Henry:-

      i.e. if they no longer hold the patent, how can they “maintain export approval status for Roundup Ready soybeans through 2021..? (whatever that means).

      Maintaining export approval status for RR soybeans means maintaining the regulatory approval of the RR trait in soybean in all major markets – there is no reason that Monsanto need to hold the patent for this, they simply have to maintain filing of all the correct documentation and any experimental work required (and paying the fees, and fighting the various legal battles etc) so that regulatory approvals remain in force – in theory once the trait is off patent anyone could do this, although would likely need access to the data package Steve has mentioned above – think of it as a goodwill gesture, or such – if they wanted to be utterly cuthroat about things ideally the regulatory approvals would be timed such that they all drop at approximately the same time as the patent does, in which case everyone would be forced to switch to another method of glyphosate tolerance because without regulatory approval you ain’t selling no magic beans.

  • Henry Kuska

    ————————————–
    Is this back on the main thread?
    ——————————-
    “LibertyLink contamination
    In August 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that Bayer’s long-grain LibertyLink transgenic rice (LL601) — not yet approved for human consumption — extensively commingled with long-grain ‘Cheniere’ rice and foundation seed grown in five southern U.S. states (FDA 2006). Over the ensuing months, major importers of U.S. rice — Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Russia and the European Union (EU) — banned or halted all imports of long-grain rice from the United States (Vermif 2006). The FDA retroactively approved LL601 for human consumption to reassure consumers that it was safe. But by that time, rice futures prices had fallen on the Chicago Board of Trade, and growers had entered into futures contracts at lower prices than anticipated (GAO 2008). University of Arkansas economists later confirmed a large and adverse (but shortlived) price drop (Li et al. 2010).

    Another of Bayer’s LibertyLink varieties (LL604) was later found in ‘Clearfield 131’ rice seed marketed by a competing seed company, BASF. It was recalled after USDA asked that it not be sold or distributed, costing BASF millions of dollars in seed sales (GAO 2008). These events prompted additional testing requirements in export markets, and significant resources were mobilized to remove LibertyLink rice from the seed supply. An industry executive estimated domestic impacts to growers between $80 million to $100 million (Cole 2006), while an attorney representing affected growers in a class-action lawsuit against Bayer estimated damages at $1 billion (GAO 2008). Drawing on USDA data, the U.S. Rice Federation suggested that rice exports to the European Union fell 68% from 2005 to 2007 (Cummings 2009). EU importers who deliver U.S. rice to market were also affected, losing an estimated ¢52 million to ¢111 million in 2006 and 2007 (Brookes 2008). While USDA did not definitively identify the contamination source, a jury awarded a dozen growers a $48 million judgment against Bayer, which owned the LibertyLink varieties grown in experimental field trials from 1999 to 2001 at a research station in Louisiana. Bayer has lost six similar cases so far, and hundreds more are pending (Cronin Fisk and Whittington 2010).”
    ———————————————-
    http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.org/landingpage.cfm?article=ca.E.v065n03p161&fulltext=yes

  • Henry Kuska

    ——————————–
    Richard R stated on August 13, 2011 at 8:11 pm: “……..
    neither should the vanity fair article be considered “gospel” which was the reason for my post.”
    ————————————–
    I attempted to find a neutral party report. What does Monsanto’s general reply to the reporters’ specific request mean? Why did they not provide their side of the story to the reporters? I assume that the reporters would of then gone back and forth to the two sides and tried to reconcile the differences. To me a free press serves a very important function as one of the important safeguards of our free society. I feel that a functioning free press would go a long way to alleviate anyone’s fear of “being duped”.
    ———————————–

    • I haven’t been following this thread, but the Vanity Fair article was written while lawsuits were still ongoing. It isn’t surprising that Monsanto would not want to talk about ongoing litigation.

      Maybe Monsanto did give their side of the story and the reporters simply didn’t report it.

      The Vanity Fair piece sure looks to me like a “hit piece” on Monsanto, and not an example of fair and balanced reporting.

  • Henry Kuska

    ——————————————
    daedalus2u stated on August 14, 2011 at 9:56 am “I haven’t been following this thread, but the Vanity Fair article was written while lawsuits were still ongoing. It isn’t surprising that Monsanto would not want to talk about ongoing litigation.”
    —————————————
    H.Kuska comment. The Gary Rinehart “incident” was in 2002, the Yanity Fair article was in May 2008. Please post a link that indicates that the Gary Rinehart lawsuite was still going on. (It is my understanding that, if a lawsuite is still going on that that would normally be given as the reason for not commenting.)
    ——————-
    Incidently the Monsanto link about the Gary Rinehart case appears to be undated.
    ————————-
    The following was stated: “Maybe Monsanto did give their side of the story and the reporters simply didn’t report it.”
    —————————-
    H.Kuska comment. I would one expect that reporters that have risen to be employed at that level of publication have professional standards (and of course they would have an editor to check what is published). Are you aware of a Monsanto lawsuit concerning your “maybe”? ““When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically, other than to say that the company is simply protecting its patents……”.

    • Henry Kuska

      ——————————–
      “James B. Steele (born January 3, 1943) is an American investigative journalist and author. With longtime collaborator Donald L. Barlett he has won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine Awards and five George Polk Awards during their thirty five years of service at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Time, and Vanity Fair. The duo are frequently referred to as Barlett and Steele.”
      ——————————–
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_B._Steele

    • The Monsanto web page on the Pilot Grove Co-op says the legal case ended July 2008. That is after the publication of the Vanity Fair article.

      Vanity Fair did not mention the most famous seed saving case, that of Percy Schmeiser. I wonder why?

      http://www.openmarket.org/2008/04/21/vanity-fair-does-frontal-assault-on-monsanto-2/

      I read the transcript or the Judge’s ruling and it was very clear that Schmeiser committed perjury. But anti-GMO types are willing to believe anything so long as it is anti-GMO. Could it be that reporting a case where Monsanto was actually right, and there was real and deliberate and willful patent infringement would interfere with the message that Vanity Fair was trying to get out?

      There is no legitimate case against rBST. BST is the same protein that cows use to regulate milk production. Cows that are bred to produce lots of milk do produce lots of milk because they have high levels of BST.

      • Henry Kuska

        ————————————
        daedalus2u stated on August 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm “The Monsanto web page on the Pilot Grove Co-op says the legal case ended July 2008. That is after the publication of the Vanity Fair article.”
        ————————————-
        H.Kuska comment: There are a number of subsections in the Vanity Fair article. The first subsection concerned the Gary Rinehart “incident”. It is within this subsection that the request for Monsanto comment was made by the authors. Because of this, I did not ask about the authors’ Pilot Grove Case communication with Monsanto, I asked: “”H.Kuska comment. The Gary Rinehart “incident” was in 2002, the Yanity Fair article was in May 2008. Please post a link that indicates that the Gary Rinehart lawsuite was still going on. (It is my understanding that, if a lawsuite is still going on that that would normally be given as the reason for not commenting.)”.
        As was stated in the Vanity Fair article, the Rinehart case was closed: “Monsanto eventually realized that “Investigator Jeffery Moore” had targeted the wrong man, and dropped the suit. ………… Rinehart never heard from Monsanto again: no letter of apology, no public concession that the company had made a terrible mistake, no offer to pay his attorney’s fees.”
        ===================================
        daedalus2u on August 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm also stated: “Vanity Fair did not mention the most famous seed saving case, that of Percy Schmeiser. I wonder why?”
        ——————————————-
        H.Kuska comment: Why should they mention one other specific story in another country with, of course, different laws? You do not judge the behavior/outcome in one situation by the behavior/outcome in another situation. The article did mention in general that there were: “…… Ever since commercial introduction of its G.M. seeds, in 1996, Monsanto has launched thousands of investigations and filed lawsuits against hundreds of farmers and seed dealers. In a 2007 report, the Center for Food Safety, in Washington, D.C., documented 112 such lawsuits, in 27 states.”
        ————————————-
        daedalus2u then presented a link that is critical of the Vanity Fair report. It states: “The main structure of the story is straight out of a report by the Center for Food Safety, called Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers.”
        —————————-
        This is what the Center for Food Safety article stated: (pages 25 and 26)”While working in his general store one day, two men approached Gary Rinehart with a degree of aggressiveness that made him feel as though they were “just short of handcuffing” him. They asked if he was Gary Rinehart, identified themselves with business cards, and explained that they were thereto settle with him about his soybean crop. Rinehart described one of the two men as “mouthy,” “intense,” and “smart alecky,” and was embarrassed by the way the men treated him in his own store. According to Rinehart’s attorney, the investigators were told to leave “because their belligerent behavior was causing customers to exit the store.” Ironically, Gary Rinehart is not even a
        farmer—the investigators had pursued the wrong man.”
        ——————————–
        The two descriptions are of the same “incident” but that is it. The one story cites the attorney the other cites Rinehart. The comment section has only one comment but it addresses the source point also.
        ——————————-
        I have not closely followed the milk issue, and I am not interested in following it as that subthread (in my mind) is very far from the original thread topic.

        • Henry, I brought up the Vanity Fair omission of the Percy Schmeiser case because it does reflect on their objectivity. They dredge up stuff from decades ago on Monsanto which is completely unrelated to GMOs, but omit the most famous case of a farmer being sued over seed saving? From that omission I infer that they are not a neutral party.

          I bring up the rBST issue because it is a non-issue from a safety standpoint, yet it is portrayed as if it is a serious health issue. There is no credible mechanism by which it could be a health issue. They grossly misrepresent the science. There is a consensus among scientists who understand the physiology of cows and BST that there is no health difference in milk from rBST treated cows and from non-rBST treated cows. Why didn’t they actually ask someone who did understand the science? From that I infer that the authors are not a neutral party and are not being objective and honest. They are essentially lying about rBST to damage Monsanto.

          What about Gary Rinehart? Monsanto dropped their case. Monsanto didn’t try to bury him, didn’t try to crush him once they knew he was not involved. They dropped the case. Maybe if Gary Rinehart had been more cooperative then Monsanto would never have sued him in the first place? Illegally saved seed was planted on his land. His nephew, who he was co-farming with, admitted to planting illegally saved seed. If Monsanto was out to destroy Gary Rinehart, why did they drop the lawsuit before he was destroyed?

          Why would Monsanto talk openly with journalists who are writing a hack-piece on them? Finding Monsanto guilty for not talking to journalists trying to damage them would be like finding Gary Rinehart guilty for not talking to Monsanto after they sued him. Oh, but Monsanto didn’t find Gary Rinehart guilty, they instead dropped their lawsuit when they figured out he was not involved.

          • Henry Kuska

            daedalus2u on August 16, 2011 at 8:43 am stated: “…………..”
            H.Kuska comment: No further comment on your “infer(s)” and “why(s)”.

  • I feel as though we are switching between different questions. These are they as I see them:

    Question 1 – Should patent laws apply to biological creations?
    Question 2 – If patent laws apply to biological creations, should a presence of genetic material in a non-licensed organism (through natural spread) be grounds for legal action under patent law?

    Question 1 – As it stands, biological creations are covered by patent law and intellectual property laws. Therefore, only the owner may license. Whether or not this is socially or environmentally responsible is irrelevant. It is law.

    Question 2 – Under my interpretation, since question 1 is true, then Monsanto or other large AG corporations, could theoretically sue for even a minute presence of the patented gene within a non-licensed plant. Whether or not the corporation does so frequently is irrelevant – they have, by law, the capacity to do so as frequently as they wish.

    I think that is where Mr. Kuska is trying to head – although, from what I’ve read, the cases in question were ones of premeditated patent infringement. Unfortunately, this is against the law.

    I think what we should be discussing is whether or not our current laws and corporate behavior will enable us to have a genetically diverse and sustainable agricultural system.

  • Henry Kuska

    Mike, early on (August 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm) in this thread I presented a reviewed published scientific review”: “The following review published in “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences” is the latest that I could find from what I would consider a non biased source (and to which the full paper is available to the public).
    ———————————————
    “The main environmental concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops are the potential weediness or invasiveness in the crop itself or in its wild or weedy relatives as a result of transgene movement. Here we briefly review evidence for pollen- and seed mediated gene flow from GM crops to non-GM or other GM crops and to wild relatives.””
    ==============================
    Perhaps it would be useful to return to that paper and the comments about it. Yes, farmers always had to worry about cross contamination between nearby plants which were close enough in gene make-up to successfully cross. However most of these crosses would have genetic weakness so that they did not survive to create a next generation or were so weak that they did not pose a threat to the local plants. The concern with a GMO is that the “unnatural gene” may give the next generation cross such a competitive edge that the undesired “bastard” would be able to successfully compete with the native plants (the term used is “superweed” (see page 81 of review).
    ——————————
    See page 85: “There is strong evidence in the literature that lepidopteran herbivores, which would be affected by the Bt gene, do limit the distribution and/or abundance of at least some wild plant species (Letourneau et al. 2003). Acquisition of insect pest/pathogen resistance traits by weeds and wild relatives is thus a significant concern.”
    —————————–
    See page 86: “In contrast, a study of the fitness effects of GM white clover (Trifolium repens L.) expressing resistance to clover yellow vein potyvirus predicted that release from the pathogen, a relatively common pathogen in naturalized T. repens populations in Australia (Godfree et al. 2004), could result in an increase in the intrinsic rate
    of population growth of up to 15% and the expansion of host populations into some marginal environments (Godfree et al. 2007).”
    —————————–
    See page 88: “Acquisition of such a trait could expand the typical habitat range of a wild relative: indeed, this is the goal of the introduction of this trait in the crop.”
    ———————————-
    Also page 88: “Acquisition of salinity tolerance might enhance the feral nature of GM crop volunteers, especially in B. napus, which is already known as a feral weed of roadside habitats (Knispel et al. 2008).”
    ———————————
    See page 90 in the conclusion: “New crops and GM traits have the potential to increase and stabilize food and bioproduct production, and positive benefits will accrue from their release. Clarity, predictability, and an established risk assessment process based on scientific quantification of risk (i.e., hazard and exposure components) are critical to ensure that products can reach markets in a timely safe fashion (Garcia- Alonso et al. 2006; Johnson et al. 2007; Raybould 2006, 2007; Nickson 2008).”
    -
    “Conflicts of Interest
    The authors declare no conflicts of interest.”

    • Henry Kuska

      ———————————-
      The following paper discusses the balence between antitrust and patent law.
      ——————————–
      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1905037
      ——————————–
      “Abstract:
      Antitrust and intellectual property laws promote innovation and competition. As long as the costs of promotion do not exceed the benefit to society, then the laws act in harmony. Discord arises when patent holders use public and private ordering to restrain competition, restrict downstream trade, prevent the development of competing products and limit output by competitors. Using the Patent Act and the misperception of antitrust immunity to create a parallel and under-regulated legal system allows a small number of patent holders to coordinate their behavior to maximize profits and minimize competition. The Patent Act provides no shield to prosecution for antitrust violations – such is a patent misperception only. Harmony comes from balancing the costs of protection with the benefit to society. Innovation is best protected through the protection of intellectual property rights and the protection of competition.”
      ————————————–
      Look at the top of abstract page for “One-Click Download” to read a Draft of the full paper (which apparently we cannot quote from without permission from the author).
      —————————

  • Henry Kuska

    ——————————–
    Mike stated on August 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm: “”I think what we should be discussing is whether or not our current laws and corporate behavior will enable us to have a genetically diverse and sustainable agricultural system.”
    ——————————–
    H.Kuska comment: That is a very interesting topic. Perhaps the following very recent published paper can serve as an introduction (from a university viewpoint).
    ————————————–
    “The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability”
    ————————————-
    “Abstract: The development of genetically engineered (GE) crops has focused predominantly on enhancing conventional pest control approaches. Scientific assessments show that these GE crops generally deliver significant economic and some environmental benefits over their conventional crop alternatives. However, emerging evidence indicates that current GE crops will not foster sustainable cropping systems unless the negative environmental and social feedback effects are properly addressed. Moreover, GE crop innovations that promote more sustainable agricultural systems will receive underinvestment by seed and chemical companies that must understandably focus on private returns for major crops. Opportunities to promote crops that convey multi-faceted benefits for the environment and the poor are foundational to a sustainable food system and should not be neglected because they also represent global public goods. In this paper, we develop a set of criteria that can guide the development of GE crops consistent with contemporary sustainable agriculture theory and practice. Based on those principles, we offer policy options and recommendations for reforming public and private R&D and commercialization processes to further the potential contributions of GE crops to sustainable agriculture. Two strategies that would help achieve this goal would be to restore the centrality of the public sector in agricultural R&D and to open the technology development process to more democratic participation by farmers and other stakeholders.”
    ——————————
    http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/6/847/pdf
    ——————————

  • Jonathan

    Henry says, “Yes, farmers always had to worry about cross contamination between nearby plants which were close enough in gene make-up to successfully cross. However most of these crosses would have genetic weakness so that they did not survive to create a next generation or were so weak that they did not pose a threat to the local plants. The concern with a GMO is that the “unnatural gene” may give the next generation cross such a competitive edge that the undesired “bastard” would be able to successfully compete with the native plants (the term used is “superweed” (see page 81 of review).”

    Where’s your evidence or logic behind that theory Henry. I’m worried you’ve just made it up because you have a problem with GM technology. Please present your thinking as to how a weedy cross containing a transgene would be given an evolutionary advantage whereas a weedy cross with only ‘natural’ genes would be at an evolutionary disadvantage.

    Jonathan

    PS That isn’t what a superweed is in the common sense of the word either. Superweeds are more often than not non-GM.

    • One would even be safe in assuming that if most of the crosses (only most Henry? Then surely this poses a problem…) would have genetic weaknesses then so would most crosses with GMOs considering that the genetics are otherwise the same – the advantage conveyed by the transgene would have to be spectacular to overcome the weaknesses Henry has already admitted would exist – one wonders why precisely Henry would think that transgenes would offer such wonderful benefits for these sad genetic outcasts when he is hard pressed to admit that they give any benefit to the species which they’re actually inserted in.

      (countdown to rules lawyering immenent)

  • Henry Kuska

    To Jonathan and Ewan. Isn’t your question the whole point of the article? I just attempted to summarize. If either of you feel that the article is saying something else, please present your summary.

  • Henry Kuska

    Regarding use of superweed. This is a 2011 Google hit from Molecular Biology Reports Volume 38, Number 1, 183-190
    ——————————–
    ” “AtMYB12 gene: a novel visible marker for wheat transformationX Gao, L Zhang, S Zhou, C Wang, X Deng… – Molecular biology …, 2011 – Springer
    … or ubiquitin gene promoters [2]. Some marker genes for positive selection enable the identification and selection of genetically modified cells, without … 2]. A herbicide resistance transgene, could move from a cultivated plant to its wild relatives, producing a ‘super weed’ that could …”
    ====================
    See page 127 of the following book (cut and paste did not work):
    “6.2. 1 Morphological Phylogenetic AnalysisT Lythreae, S Lythrineae, AH Rotala… – Wild Crop Relatives- …, 2011 – books.google.com
    … 6.5 Impact of Genetically Modified (GM) Plants to Non-GM Plants The use of genetic modification techniques have increased the number of … This is normally not a signifi- cant concern, despite fears over “mutant superweeds” overgrowing local wildlife: although hybrid plants are …”
    —————————–
    The actual link appears to be too long to post, but here it is in case I am wrong:

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zWp–NMP3hAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA117&dq=gmo+superweed&ots=8nHo4a5sEa&sig=3Phyh9Fi5k6VVoUAm8pMoF7oHUc#v=onepage&q&f=true
    ———————————
    Here is what appears to be the missing part:
    VoUAm8pMoF7oHUc#v=onepage&q&f=true
    ——————————-

  • Jonathan

    Nice avoidance of the questions Henry by simply firing an unrelated question back supported by anecdote and/or cherry-picked random publication out of context. Well done sir.

    Quoting a couple of references doesn’t change the fact that in the subject of GM agriculture “superweeds” more often than not doesn’t refer to a GM plant.

    I will repeat, “Please present your thinking as to how a weedy cross containing a transgene would be given an evolutionary advantage whereas a weedy cross with only ‘natural’ genes would be at an evolutionary disadvantage.”

    I won’t hold my breath as you seem incapable of presenting simple biologically rational explanations of your comments.

    Jonathan

  • Henry Kuska

    ———————–
    Jonathan on August 18, 2011 at 9:29 am made some statements.
    ————————————
    Henry Kuska comment. I am interested in a fact based discussion. I posted on August 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm the following:
    =======================================================
    “———————————————
    The following review published in “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences” is the latest that I could find from what I would consider a non biased source (and to which the full paper is available to the public).
    ———————————————
    “The main environmental concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops are the potential weediness or invasiveness in the crop itself or in its wild or weedy relatives as a result of transgene movement. Here we briefly review evidence for pollen- and seed mediated gene flow from GM crops to non-GM or other GM crops and to wild relatives.”
    ————————————
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04576.x/pdf
    ———————————————-”
    =======================================
    Please note that I gave the complete reference so that the reader has the ability to put any of my quotes that were presented on August 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm in the complete context of the paper. Jonathan, I suggest that instead of saying that I took a quote out of context (without telling which quote), that you please demonstrate where in the paper there is evidence that a specific, identified quote is not presented accurately.
    ————————————————
    If you, Jonathan, or anyone else has a (some) comment(s) concerning one or more points presented in this paper please put the section in quotes and present your comments/references for your point(s).

    • Jonathan

      Henry

      I will repeat for a third time “Please present your thinking as to how a weedy cross containing a transgene would be given an evolutionary advantage whereas a weedy cross with only ‘natural’ genes would be at an evolutionary disadvantage.”

      “your” is the operative word here. Quoting someone else’s paper that doesn’t make any mention of differences between GM and non-GM cross weeds doesn’t explain why you think GM outcrosses would be at an evolutionary advantage but non-GM outcrosses would be at an evolutionary disadvantage (as you stated in your post of August 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm).

      I’d just be interested in a straight biologically rational answer. I’m worried you don’t have one.

      Jonathan

      • Henry Kuska

        My exact statement was “Yes, farmers always had to worry about cross contamination between nearby plants which were close enough in gene make-up to successfully cross. However most of these crosses would have genetic weakness so that they did not survive to create a next generation or were so weak that they did not pose a threat to the local plants. The concern with a GMO is that the “unnatural gene” may give the next generation cross such a competitive edge that the undesired “bastard” would be able to successfully compete with the native plants (the term used is “superweed” (see page 81 of review).”
        —————————————
        Please note the words “most” and “may give” and then read pages 77 through 80.

        • Jonathan

          I can’t access that paper at the moment. Maybe because I’m in Germany where I often have access conflicts on the web. Could you therefore explain the biological reason for your statement in a few sentences.

          I prefer to discuss misunderstandings simply and person to person. References should only be used to back up an argument a poster has made in his or her own words. References should not to be used as the argument itself.

          Jonathan

        • Henry Kuska

          ——————————————
          Jonathan on August 19, 2011 at 9:08 am stated: “References should only be used to back up an argument a poster has made in his or her own words. References should not to be used as the argument itself.”
          ——————————————
          H.Kuska comment. My original statement was in my own words. The reference was used to back up the statement.
          —————————————–
          I suggest that you contribute your comments about this paper and my statements concerning it after you obtain a copy.
          ——————————————-
          Of course, others who have access to the paper are encouraged to comment on my interpretation.
          —————————————–

          • Henry – My interpretation of your comment, and restated here for brevity (and in greater length at my post of August 18, 2011 at 10:50 am), is that you are simply stating that this is an environmental “concern” with a GMO crop. Concern being defined as “to trouble or worry.” You are stating it is merely a concern – no more, no less. You are not stating that it has occurred or that it will occur, only that it is a concern with GM crops.

            I think your post below at August 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm illustrates some of those “concerns.” For example, in that paper the authors give the example that the EPA does not allow Bt cotton to be grown in Hawaii because they are “concerned” that the Bt gene may flow to wild relatives. Likewise where there are no wild relatives in the US, such as corn, the EPA was not overly concerned with gene flow.

            • Eric Baumholder

              Richard R,

              You’re missing a popular rhetorical trick. Anyone can be concerned about any arbitrary thing whatsoever, which makes ‘a concern’ quite trivial. This can be changed by referring to the nature of the person expressing the concern. If the person is ‘sincerely committed to the welfare of the environment’, their concern is implicitly validated by their apparent goodness and good will. And it’s a perfect set-up for the follow-up rhetorical trick. If you disagree with them, then you are a bad person by implication. And everybody knows you shouldn’t believe what bad people say.

  • Steve Savage’s post “Genetic Contamination May Not Mean What You Think it Means” starts off with the following question:

    In the debate about GMO crops, the “threat of genetic contamination” is often raised as a reason to reject the technology. Is this threat real? Does it justify acts of vandalism? Could it lead to the “End of Organics“? Is it actually an over-blown issue?

    His post concludes with:

    They (farmers and plant breeders) have also been able to fully manage the cases where cross pollination could cause a genetic purity problem for the crop. GMO crops have not changed this in any fundamental way that cannot be dealt with by rational decision making and regulation.

    Henry pulls out several comments from the following article
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04576.x/pdf
    such as “The main environmental concern about genetically modified GM crops are the potential weediness” or several points listed in his post at August 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm supporting his comment that “The concern with a GMO is that the “unnatural gene” may give the next generation cross such a competitive edge that the undesired “bastard” would be able to successfully compete with the native plants.

    To Henry’s credit he does cite the following from the conclusions of the article:

    “Clarity, predictability, and an established risk assessment process based on scientific quantification of risk (i.e., hazard and exposure components) are critical to ensure that products can reach markets in a timely safe fashion.”

    I think the conclusion of Steve’s post on genetic contamination is consistent with the conclusion of the article that Henry cites. Yes, there are environmental concerns that need to be addressed when studying new GM traits for commercial application. Henry has pulled out several comments from the article identifying “concerns.” Steve points out that sunflowers do have weedy relatives, and therefore no GM sunflowers have been introduced in the US (i.e. there are “concerns”). Steve’s article states that with proper regulation and rational decision making, these concerns can be mitigated. The article Henry cites is saying, in my opinion, that by improving the design of fitness experiments regulators will have access to better data at an earlier time in order to bring these beneficial agricultural traits to commercialization earlier (i.e. “in a timely safe fashion”).

    The study is not saying GM technology should be abandoned because the risks outweigh the benefits. From reading Henry’s posts I was left with the impression that he was implying that environmental concerns were too great to advance GM products into the environment. Reviewing Henry’s posts, I don’t see him saying GM technology poses environmental concers so great that the technology should be abandoned so I will conclude that this was my misinterpretation of his posts. He is only referencing that there are “concerns.” Henry cites the conclusion of the article which states that “clarity, predictablily and an established risk assessment process …are critical to ensure that (GM) products can reach markets in a timely fashion.” This is not a rejection of GM technology, but it is an acknowledgement that the environmental concern does exist. It is being addressed through regulation. Therefore by including the citation of the article’s conclusion, Henry appears to be acknowledging that adoption of commercial GM products should occur in a timely safe fashion.

    To tie this all back to the questions posed by Steve, I think “genetic contamination” is an overblown issue when it is used by those advocating a rejection of the technology. This is supported by the article cited by Henry. That article is not advocating the abandonment of the technology. It is not stating that the technology is too risky. It is stating that improving testing methods will provide better data to regulators so that safe GM technology can be advanced to commercialization. I believe the issue of “genetic contamination” is overblown when the word “contamination” is used emotively as justification for rejecting the technology. The article cited by Henry uses the word contamination once and it does not use it in the context of abandoning the technology. Gene flow is the term used by the article, and as Steve points out, gene flow is perfectly natural.

    • Richard,
      thanks for that summation. I agree that this is a manageable issue much like the introduction of any new crop or ornamental species. It is actually hard to turn a well behaved crop into a weed with a gene or two or three. The bigger issue is IF there are weedy relatives. Usually the answer is no. If not (as in the sunflower case) it is ok to error on the side of caution unless there is some really compelling reason to explore the question further. Thanks to all the contributors to this comment stream. It is an interesting discussion

  • Henry Kuska

    One of the most useful characterics of Google Scholar is that it tells what more recent papers have cited each paper. For the New York Academy of Sciences paper, 17 citations are listed.
    ——————————————
    Of particular interest is the paper:
    Title: U.S. EPA Regulation of Plant-Incorporated Protectants: “Assessment of Impacts of Gene Flow from Pest-Resistant Plants”

    Authors: Chris A. Wozniak* and Jeannette C. Martinez

    Authors affiliation: Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Office of Pesticide Programs, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 7511P, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20460, United States

    Published in: J. Agric. Food Chem., 2011, 59 (11), pages 5859–5864.

    ————————————
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf1030168
    —————————————
    I was able to access the full paper through my University affiliation. Unfortunately, when I tried to access through a non university computer, (at first) I obtained a notice that only the abstract is available to the general public. This surprised me as normally government publications are not copyrighted and there was such a notice on this article (“Copyright This article not subject to U.S. Copyright.”). Because of past experience, I tried several approaches. The middle “Hi-Res PDF” button worked.
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf1030168
    ——————————————–
    “To provide greater clarity to the registration process for PIPs,
    the EPA is presently delineating data requirements and associated
    guidelines for all aspects of product characterization,
    human health assessment, and environmental risk assessment
    through rulemaking. It is anticipated that the proposed rule (i.e.,
    proposed data requirements for PIPs) will be available for public
    comment in 2011. This comment period will provide an avenue
    for input from all concerned parties and will aid the EPA in
    forming its final rule regarding gene flow data requirements and
    other aspects of PIP regulation.”

  • Henry Kuska

    ————————————————-
    This is one of the 17 papers that cite the New York Academy of Sciences paper.
    ———————————————–
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/9051080346138132/fulltext.pdf
    ———————————————
    I picked it because the full copy is available, because it brings up another complication, heterosis (hybrid vigor), and because I am impressed by the science in the paper.
    ——————————————-
    Of particular interest (to me) was the following statement (found in the Abstract):
    “Although the gene flow frequency was generally low, our results suggest that F2 progeny between GM and weedy relatives may exhibit heterosis.”
    ————————————————
    In the introduction they mention the following: “In addition, without involving transgenes, heterosis has been frequently observed in hybrids between domesticated crop species and wild or weedy relatives (Ellstrand et al. 1999). Heterosis is achieved through dominance, overdominance and epistatic interactions (Lippman and Zamir 2007). Similarly, gene flow from transgenic crops to weedy relatives may incur heterosis with greater fecundity, subsequently increasing the chance for further transgene spread (Lu and Snow 2005).”
    (fecundity can be replaced with fertility).

    • Henry,
      Heterosis would be a mixed bag for a weed. Heterosis is not an automatically vigor effect of a cross unless it represents the combination of “heterotic pools.” Also, vigor in one generation does not mean that it will persist in the next. Of course, some hybrids are sterile (e.g. between a diploid and tetraploid as in the case of commercial bananas).

      Again; however, this is only even an issue at all if there are “weedy relatives” in the area. When that is not the case, then this isn’t even an issue

  • Henry Kuska

    In rose hybridizing, from my experience, heterosis is relatively rare. Here is one example:

    http://www.helpmefind.com/gardening/l.php?l=2.63226&tab=36

    Another:

    http://home.roadrunner.com/~kuska/kochiana%20page.htm

  • Henry Kuska

    One of the papers stated something along the line of: that if the gm cross with a wild plant yielded a triploid, there would be nothing to worry about since the triploid will be sterile. This “rule” is a “first approximation” rule. There are many exceptions in nature. Perhaps this is best illustrated by doing a Google search with the following in brackets: fertile triploid (about 2040 hits).
    Also 309 hits in Google Scholar.

    • The “EPA” paper (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf1030168) states in relation to cotton in Arizona:

      “The diploid species Gossypium thurberi (wild Arizon cotton) is not found in the areas where cotton is grown (i.e., desert valleys), and the progeny would be sterile due to their triploid state if gene flow and hybridization did occur with Upland or Pima cottons.”

      So not only are the triploids sterile, but there is also geographic segregation. Again, as Steve points the weedy relative is most often not in the same area so this is not much of an issue.

      The risk of gene flow is mitigated further as stated by the authors:

      “Attempts to deliberately cross G. hirsutum (Domestic Cotton)with G. thurberi as the female parent have been unsuccessful.”

      Not only that but they also state:

      “Additionally, the flowering periods of the commercial cotton and G. thurberi are primarily incongruous.”

      So, so far we are at 1) Triploids are sterile, 2) attempts to cross commercial with wild have been unsuccessful, 3) The flowering cycle of the two plants does not line up for cross-pollinization.

      Finally the authors state:

      Any gene exchange between plants of G. hirsutum and G. thurberi, if it did occur, would result in triploid…sterile plants because G. hirsutum is an allotetraploid (4x = 52 chromosomes) and G. thurberi is a diploid (2x = 26 chromosomes).Such sterile hybrids have been produced under controlled conditions, but they would not persist in the wild; in addition, fertile allohexaploids (6x = 78 chromosomes) have not been reported in the wild.

      So – sterile triploid hybrids have been produced “in the lab”, but they apparently lack vigor to survive, and finally “fertile allohexaploids” have never been reported in the wild. I’ll confess, the article lost me at “fertile allohexaploids.” I only conclude that any gene flow in Arizona would be extremely unlikely and plants are weird – I mean allohexaploid, really? And people find taxes complicated.

      Although fertility of a triploid may occur in google hits, it would seem to me that there is much information in existing literature about whether this would be possible in the particular crop in the pre-GM years. It also seems that even if it was possible, there are many other mitigating factors (geography, flowering period, lack of vigor of triploid etc.) that reduce (eliminate?) the risk of gene flow to the wild relative.

      • Henry Kuska

        Thank you for the summary of the cotton triploid part of the EPA paper. Your point “Although fertility of a triploid may occur in google hits, it would seem to me that there is much information in existing literature about whether this would be possible in the particular crop in the pre-GM years.” may be true in some/many cases but I would not be surprised if there are cases that have not been well studied (regarding triploid characteristics).
        —————————————–
        In roses many/most wide crosses that I try between diploids and tetraploids do not set seed. Of those that do only a small fraction of the seed normally germinate. Of those that germinate only a small fraction live to the second season (partly because I am in a rather cold climate (zone 5) and do not winter protect as one of my breading goals is winter hardy. Of those that live into the second season many never grow highter than a foot (runts) no matter how many years that I keep them. Of the “normal” ones many are initially sterile. Some form only a few viable seeds. Some give many viable seeds. Some of the initially sterile plants may give a few seeds every so many years (whether it depends on the type of summer – heat, moisture, age of my grandmother, etc., does not appear to be clear).
        ————————————————
        It is easy to tell if a triploid is male fertile as one collects the pollen, add a dye (I use acetocarmine), and observe the pollen under a microscope (only viable pollen will absorb the dye). A fertile triploid will produce both n=1 (smaller) and n=2 (larger) pollen.
        ———————————————————
        The link below takes one to the first of 12 John Davis rose pollen slides (13 measurements).

        This set is of interest because John Davis is triploid so both n=1 (smaller size, around 26-28) and n=2 (larger size around 33-36) pollen are expected to be present.

        (To go to the next slide, click the right arrow to the right of the picture.)

        http://picasaweb.google.com/HAKuska/MicroscopePictures02#5362573139519352354
        —————————————-
        The n=1 smaller size pollen are expected to fertilize diploid female roses, and the n=2 larger size pollen are expected to fertilize tetraploid female roses.

  • The issues of hybrid vigor should be an issue for non-GM cotton too. How long has non-GM cotton been grown and what is the incidence of hybrids from non-GM cotton becoming invasive superweeds?

    If the “invasive-weediness” is due to heterosis, then that is a single generation, one-of-a-kind trait. It can’t persist.

  • Eric Baumholder

    About 6 years ago or so, a researcher (Alison Snow I believe) documented what looked like heterosis in crosses of Bt-modified commercial sunflower cultivars and wild sunflowers. The crosses produced something like 20-30% more seeds.

    The same result did not obtain in crosses between just-plain commercial cultivars and wild relatives, which implicated Bt in a way that has yet to be explained. Snow offered no explanation, and I have the impression that others have given up trying to figure it out.

    • Henry Kuska

      Eric, your post concerning the Bt gene promotion of an increase in seed number (“heterosis in crosses of Bt-modified commercial sunflower cultivars and wild sunflowers. The crosses produced something like 20-30% more seeds.”) is similar to what appears in the herbicide-tolerant GM rice paper: “Although this study did not examine the direct contribution of transgenes to heterosis, the enhanced performance of homozygous hybrids in some traits (height and number of seeds) suggest that transgenes may promote heterotic effects.”

    • Eric, but if that effect was due to heterosis, then when the seeds from the hybrid were planted the heterosis would not persist.

      Heterosis is going to be very strain-strain specific. It is not a genetic trait that can be stable in an open pollinating group of plants. If it can’t be a stable trait in a gene-pool, then it can’t result in the emergence of super-weeds.

      • Henry Kuska

        daedalus2u, I do not understand your statement: “if that effect was due to heterosis, then when the seeds from the hybrid were planted the heterosis would not persist.
        Heterosis is going to be very strain-strain specific. It is not a genetic trait that can be stable in an open pollinating group of plants. If it can’t be a stable trait in a gene-pool, then it can’t result in the emergence of super-weeds.”
        —————————–
        See: “Importance of epistasis as the genetic basis of heterosis in an elite rice hybrid”
        http://www.pnas.org/content/94/17/9226.full.pdf+html
        ——————————————
        “F1 heterosis, measured as the percentage of deviation of the F1 from the parental mean, is large for yield in both years. There was still large residual heterosis in the F3 generation.”

  • The mechanism of heterosis is not understood.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929104/?tool=pubmed

    When hybrids are constructed, elite inbred strains are produced, strains that have pretty good yield. Then those inbred strains are crossed to make hybrids and the best yielding hybrids are noted. Then the original inbred strains are grown and crossed to make the specific hybrid that achieved the best yields under the field conditions expected.

    The F3 generation in the paper you linked to was not appreciably superior to one of the F0 parents. For a hybrid to become a super-weed, the F2, F3, F4, F5, … in perpetuity; all have to be super-weeds. They have to be super-weeds when back-crossed with the weedy parent, and when back-crossed with the domesticated parent.

    If there are ploidy differences such that many of the weedy x domesticated crosses are sterile, the few that are not sterile are very likely to not exhibit super-weed properties in perpetuity.

    The properties of what constitutes a super-weed are not the properties of any domesticated plant. A hybrid would have to lose all the desirable traits that make it a useful domesticated plant and gain the undesirable properties that make it a super-weed. Then those traits would have to be stable in an open pollinated group of plants.

    Weeds are open pollinated. Hybrids are not. If the F2 generation did produce yields comparable to the F1 generation, then farmers would save seed and not buy new hybrid seed each year. Farmers don’t do that because there is such a yield penalty that it is more cost effective to buy new seed every year.

  • Henry Kuska

    Please note. This is not the first time I tried to post lately on this subtopic. The posts just disappear.
    ———————————————-

    daedalus2u stated on August 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm the following: “For a hybrid to become a super-weed, the F2, F3, F4, F5, … in perpetuity; all have to be super-weeds. They have to be super-weeds when back-crossed with the weedy parent, and when back-crossed with the domesticated parent.”
    ————————————-
    H.Kuska comment. The “super-weeds” of concern in this thread are those wild plants closely related to GMO plants that receive a GMO gene that gives the resulting hybrid F1 an advantage over and above the normal related plants. If heterosis that affects fertility also occurs, this gives the “super-weed” an extra “jump start”. Yes, from my reading I expect the heterosis effect to decrease from F1 to F2 to F3 etc. As to how fast the effect decreases, this is one literature example for cotton:
    ——————————————-
    “Evaluation and Prospects of F2 Genotypes of Cotton (Gossypium
    hirsutum) for Yield and Yield Components”
    “The yield increase of hybrid over better parents or best commercial varieties is due to sufficient magnitude of heterosis. Meredith (1998) showed heterosis of 21.4% for F1 hybrid and 10.7% for F2 but heterosis of fiber properties was small averaging from 0 to 2.0% and concluded that both F1 and F2 hybrids can produce significantly higher yields than the best yielding parents or the commercial cultivars.”
    ————————————————
    In the Results and Discussion Section:
    “Assuming that dominant gene
    action causes the heterosis, the F2 yield is expected to loss 50% of the heterosis expressed by F1. The maximum hybrid vigor loss for yield was observed -42.12% in cross MNH-554 × LRA-5166 followed by CIM-499 × LRA-5166 and CIDEX × CIM-446 showed-39.7 and 27.8% loss of heterosis for yield, respectively. While the minimum hybrid vigor loss for yield was recorded -3.04 and -5.54% for CIDEX × CIM-499 and MNH-554 × FH-945, respectively. The highest yielding F2 hybrid MNH-786 × VH-144, CEDIX × CIM-499 and LRA-5166 × CIM-499 lost -12.03, -42.12 and -39.72% hybrid vigor over F1 but the yield was quite higher than the best commercial variety CIM-496. The increase in yield of these three F2 hybrids was 34.41, 14.65 and 15.41% over CIM-496, respectively. The inbreeding
    depression of highest yielding F1 hybrids was about what was expected on 50% decrease dominance from F1 to F2. Several crosses however showed little inbreeding depression but there yield is higher than commercial variety (Table II).”
    ————————————————
    In the Conclusion section:
    “It is also concluded from these results that F2 generation can also be cultivated in field for the use of heterotic vigor and cost of seed production can be decreased. The results are also in according to the
    previous findings of Meyer (1975) Sheetz and Quinseberry (1986) and Iqbal et al. (2003). The significant deviation of F2 in hybrid vigor from expected 50% could be due to nonadditive gene action other than dominance. From these results it can also be concluded that F2”S can produce better combination of yield and fibre quality e.g., CIM-499 ×
    LRA-5166, LRA-5166 × FH-901. On the basis of genetic variation within F2, it might have broader range of adaptation than conventional varieties and F1. So the question concerning the stability across environments of parents, F1, F2 remains open as it will require a greater range of climate, soils, pest management and environments to
    determine either F2 hybrids are more adoptable than their parents and F1 hybrids.”
    ———————————————–
    http://www.fspublishers.org/ijab/past-issues/IJABVOL_10_NO_4/15.pdf
    ———————————————–

    A slow decrease of a yield heterosis effect is not critical as the main “superweed” characteristic is due to the GMO; the heterosis just gives the “superweed” at least a one generation (and possibly a second generation) “jump start”.
    =========================================
    The following was stated: “The F3 generation in the paper you linked to was not appreciably superior to one of the F0 parents.”
    —————————————-
    Yes, the key words are “not appreciably superior” but, for the yield parameter still enough to help “jump start” the GMO contaminated “superweed”. Also, the data here applies to your statement discussed next.
    From Table 1.
    Yield, grandparent 1 – (6.50 6.26 2 years ); grandparent 2 – (4.84 4.48); F1 – 8.53 (50.4) 8.91 (66.0) also 2 years ; F3 – 7.40 (30.8) 6.62 (23.3) also 2 years.
    ==============================================
    The following was stated: “Weeds are open pollinated. Hybrids are not. If the F2 generation did produce yields comparable to the F1 generation, then farmers would save seed and not buy new hybrid seed each year. Farmers don’t do that because there is such a yield penalty that it is more cost effective to buy new seed every year.”
    —————————————
    H.Kuska comment: There may be crops (such as Canola) where the above statement has been shown to be accurate by controlled research in a certain area. But as the 2 papers that I cited above show, Nature is complex; and there are cases where it is not accurate. From another viewpoint – Oh, then why all the “concern” about farmers being sued for saving seed?
    ——————————————–

    • Long comments are often caught by the spam catcher. Pasting from other sources is discouraged. Links and a short summary usually suffice in getting a point across – readers can follow the link if they want to read the full text in context. Please at least attempt to follow this guideline.

    • Re: “Oh, then why all the “concern” about farmers being sued for saving seed?” I think you are stating this in relation to the comment “farmers buy new hybrid seed each year.”

      Henry – I believe the concern over saved seed comes from open pollinated crops. I do not see any “saved seed” lawsuits coming from corn.

      For canola, the graph at bottom of page 1 in the following link shows the adoption rate of hybrid canola between 2002 and 2007 (old report, but illustrative of hybrid adoption).

      http://www.canolacouncil.org/uploads/canola_growing_great_2015.pdf

      The Schmeiser case was from crops saved in the late 90s when hybrids were much less of a factor in the market.

      Finally, I am not sure of your overall point. Are you trying to show that nature is too complex for any amount of regulation or study to allow the release of GM products into the environment?

      • Henry Kuska

        Richard R stated on August 22, 2011 at 9:51 am: ” Henry – I believe the concern over saved seed comes from open pollinated crops. I do not see any “saved seed” lawsuits coming from corn.”
        ————————————————
        H.Kuska comment. I am not sure I understand the purpose of your comment. By law the seeds of patented GMO containing hybrids cannot be saved and planted. And companies threaten to sue when they discover violators. If it was true that “……….there is such a yield penalty that it is more cost effective to buy new seed every year” one would think that the companies would ignor the violators as the violators would quickly learn on their own that it was not in their best interest to use “inferior” seed.
        ================================
        When I mentioned Canola, I was thinking about this report:
        ————————————-
        http://www.saskcanola.ca/media/pdfs/report-Brandt-certifiedseed-short.pdf

        http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:fuOlcVGztFYJ:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=5,36&sciodt=0,36
        ————————————–
        that found that it was uneconomical (under their experimental conditions) to use F2 seed from F1 Canola hybrids. I was not thinking of rate of adoption.
        ===============================
        I also do not understand the purpose of: “The Schmeiser case was from crops saved in the late 90s when hybrids were much less of a factor in the market.”
        ———————————-

        • Hi Henry-the point of my post is that I do not know of any lawsuits (seed company suing farmer) where the product was a hybrid seed. The examples in the US that I can think of (see Monsanto website link I previously provided for other examples) are soybean, which is not a hybrid. Corn – being a hybrid seed product does not experience “saved seed” issues because the hybrid vigour does not persist past the first year and farmers have generally not saved the seed from these hybrids since their development in the 1930s.

          The purpose of the canola lawsuit comment was because in the 1990s hybrids were not a significant part of the market. Open pollinated varieties dominated the market, therefore there was minimal yeild loss from saving the seed into the next year. The canola lawsuit would have been with saving an open pollinated variety being saved.

    • Henry, In the context of cotton, “yield” is quantity of fiber produced, not number or mass of seeds. High yield in cotton is high fiber production which does not correlate with weediness. Heterosis in fiber production in hybrid cotton says nothing about potential weediness of those cotton hybrids.

      • Henry Kuska

        daedalus2u stated on August 22, 2011 at 11:40 am: “Henry, In the context of cotton, “yield” is quantity of fiber produced, not number or mass of seeds. High yield in cotton is high fiber production which does not correlate with weediness. Heterosis in fiber production in hybrid cotton says nothing about potential weediness of those cotton hybrids.
        ——————————————-
        H.Kuska comment: The purpose of the cotton article was to show that your comment that heterosis does not pass to the next generation is not accurate (“If the “invasive-weediness” is due to heterosis, then that is a single generation, one-of-a-kind trait. It can’t persist.”)
        and that your comment that “Farmers don’t do that because there is such a yield penalty that it is more cost effective to buy new seed every year”.
        Earlier I presented a paper that specifically looked at heterosis and number of seeds.
        “http://www.springerlink.com/content/9051080346138132/fulltext.pdf

        • Ewan R

          Henry, the paper you present doesn’t support the arguement you appear to be making.

          There is an increase in seed number in the heterotic cross between the weed and the hybrid (F1) (as one would expect) but the F2 generation does not show significantly different grain numbers at all – the plant does not appear to be significantly improved in any aspect as compared to the weedy relative other than perhaps improved 1000 seed weight.

          I am also unsure as to why you are conflating seed number and yield. This is ridiculous.

          • Ewan R

            Meh ignore my first point…. I misread the methods… as such I am speaking gibberish right up to the point that I talk about conflating seed number and yield

          • Henry Kuska

            Ewan R stated on August 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm : “I am also unsure as to why you are conflating seed number and yield. This is ridiculous.”
            —————————————–
            H.Kuska comment. Seed Number is for the “jump start” of the “GMO weed” subtopic, and yield is for the heterosis does not pass to offspring subtopic and also for the saved hybrid seed always results in a uneconomical yield drop subtopic ““Farmers don’t do that because there is such a yield penalty that it is more cost effective to buy new seed every year”.

        • Henry, heterosis will only contribute to weediness if heterosis happens for a weedy trait. Yield of fiber in cotton is not a trait that does or can contribute to weediness. Crops are not selected for heterosis in weedy traits. Inbred crops are developed to exhibit heterosis in desirable crop traits when crossed.

          I get the feeling that you don’t appreciate what heterosis is and how hybrids are developed.

          • Henry Kuska

            —————————————
            daedalus2u stated on August 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm: “Henry, heterosis will only contribute to weediness if heterosis happens for a weedy trait.”
            ————————————–
            H. Kuska comment, Earlier I presented a paper that specifically looked at heterosis and number of seeds.
            —————————————-
            “Gene flow from herbicide-tolerant GM rice and the heterosis
            of GM rice-weed F2 progeny”
            ——————————————–http://www.springerlink.com/content/9051080346138132/fulltext.pdf
            —————————————

            The ability to produce more seed will “jump start” the spread of the “GM rice-weed F2 progeny”. The main “weedy trait” is the GMO gene. See page 1
            ——————————–
            “When such hybrids exhibit beneficial traits expressed by transgene (e.g., herbicide tolerance, herbivore resistance, tolerance to stress conditions), they may increase fitness and facilitate the evolution of more invasive weeds (Ellstrand et al. 1999; Ellstrand 2003; Pilson and Prendeville 2004; Warwick et al. 2009).”
            ————————————–
            page 814
            “We emphasize this here because the increased fecundity of hybrids may allow them to enter a new niche range and expand the size of their populations.”

            • Ewan R

              Henry – the ability to produce more seed isn’t very meaningful when the seed doesn’t disperse – all the F2 plants in your linked study have a markedly lower shattering score than the weedy parent, as such one would have to predict they would fare less well than the weedy relative (unless sprayed with the herbicide)

              This is precisely the sort of trait selected for use in agriculture that prevents agricultural plants being at risk of weediness – and it apparently sticks to the transgene like glue (at least in this case)

              • Henry Kuska

                Ewan R stated on August 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm: “Henry – the ability to produce more seed isn’t very meaningful when the seed doesn’t disperse – all the F2 plants in your linked study have a markedly lower shattering score than the weedy parent, as such one would have to predict they would fare less well than the weedy relative (unless sprayed with the herbicide)
                ———————————–
                H.Kuska comment. The exact quote is:
                “The shattering rate of F2 progeny was comparable to that of GM rice, while weedy rice exhibited much greater shattering rate (Fig. 6e).”
                —————————————–
                And the next section states:
                ————————————-
                “The performance of progeny resembled that of weedy
                rice. The percentage of ripened grains in homozygous
                and hemizygous progeny was comparable to that of weedy rice, while that of GM rice was significantly
                lower (Fig. 6h).”
                ===================================
                I am basing the following on my experience with rose hips. (conjecture) The ripened seeds will sooner or later be dispersed by other routes than simple dropping as measured in nylon mesh bags. For those seed heads that do not shatter due to wind caused collisions of the plants, the unharvested ripened seed heads of the F2 rice will drop due to dying of the seed head stem. Then rodents (if the plants are on land), fish (if the plants are in water), and birds can disperse the seeds.
                ———————

                • Ewan R

                  Delayed seed dispersal will undoubtedly reduce fitness as compared to the weedy relative regardless – and this is just one aspect of domestication which will have an impact (the only one measured in the paper you link, but to assume there are no others is foolhardy) – shattering is an important thing to not have in ag crops, and an important thing to have in a weed.

                  An intermediate between a succesful weed and a succesful crop is quite clearly a failure in both arenas (it requires a certain level of ignorance, either wilful or passive, to argue otherwise) – from the paper you’ve shown this appears to be what occurs in rice – exactly as one would expect when crossing a success in one area with a success in the other.

                  • Henry Kuska

                    ————————-
                    Ewan R stated on August 23, 2011 at 8:32 am: “Delayed seed dispersal will undoubtedly reduce fitness as compared to the weedy relative regardless…”
                    ————————-
                    H.Kuska comment. Oh? Shattering puts the seeds right next to the parent. The delayed dispersal mechanisms scatter the seed over a large area.
                    —————————————-
                    To not have shattering in a commercial crop is important so that seeds are not lost before harvest.
                    ————————————
                    Yes, shattering “can be” an important thing to have in a weed, but it is not a “necessary” thing to have in a weed. For example, multiflora rose is a very serious weed problem yet it has zero or near zero shattering).

                  • Henry Kuska

                    ———————–
                    Ewan, is this paper sufficient to show that your “expectation” is just that, an expectation (” An intermediate between a succesful weed and a succesful crop is quite clearly a failure in both arenas ………….. exactly as one would expect when crossing a success in one area with a success in the other.”)?
                    ———————————–
                    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20021561
                    ———————————

                    • Ewan R

                      No it isn’t given that we are discussing effects after the F1 generation where heterotic vigor would be expected – the paper shows that the F1 generation displays hybrid vigor, which is hardly unexpected – the discussion I thought we had moved to was on subsequent generations.

                    • Henry Kuska

                      Ewan, your exact quote is: “An intermediate between a succesful weed and a succesful crop is quite clearly a failure in both arenas ………….. exactly as one would expect when crossing a success in one area with a success in the other.”
                      —————————-
                      You are referring to the F1 generation.

                    • Don’t presume to tell me what I am referring to.

                      Thanks.

                    • Henry Kuska

                      —————————–
                      Ewan. Sorry, I should have included the definition of what F1 means for you to compare with what you actually stated:
                      ——————————–
                      http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/F1_GENERATION

                    • I was perhaps imprecise in my use of language, I was however categorically not referring to the F1 – I had taken it as a given that based on the prior discussion there was general agreement that the F1 would benefit from heterosis and was discussing the F2 (and beyond, perhaps unclearly) just as the paper that was under discussion had done.

                • Ewan R

                  More thoughts on reduced shattering and weediness of a wild rice in rice fields:-

                  If the GM/weedy rice doesn’t shatter as much then I posit that this absolutely reduces its fitness relative to the original weed with which it was crossed – your arguements on delaying dispersal only make sense outside of an agricultural setting – delaying dispersal within a field of rice means that come harvest time your seeds are harvested, not dispersed – if you possess a trait that makes it more likely for your seeds to never make it into the ground this is the exact opposite of weediness.

                  If the plants aren’t in an Ag setting then the transgene has no selective benefit and the whole discussion is pretty much moot.

                  • Henry Kuska

                    ——————————-
                    Ewan, you are going in the wrong direction. The concern is not that pollen from the wild rice will cause F1 in the middle of the farmer’s field. Yes, those seeds would be harvested along with the pure seeds and not cause spread of F1s. The concern is that GM pollen will reach and fertilize neighboring wild (weedy) rice.
                    ———————————–
                    “F1 hybrids were produced by hand-pollination during July – September 2005, using the three weedy rice strains as the female parents and the two GM rice lines as the male parents.”
                    ————————————–
                    I would assume that farmers would not be attempting to harvest the wild rice near their fields.

              • Henry Kuska

                A USDA paper discusses another important factor when the GMO rice is for herbicide resistance.
                ————————————-
                “Gene Flow Between Red Rice (Oryza sativa) and Herbicide-Resistant Rice (O. sativa):
                Implications for Weed Management”
                ——————————————-
                http://www.wssajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1614/WT02-100?journalCode=wete
                ———————————————
                The abstract only is available to the public so I will have to cut and paste from the full paper to fill in what the abstract means when it states:
                ————————-
                “Natural outcrossing among rice plants is generally low. Most of the pollen dispersal studies published to date indicated that rice × rice outcrossing rates were less than 1.0%. Numerous reports summarized in this study suggest that outcrossing rates between rice and red rice can be highly variable but usually are similar to or lower than this level. However, once hybrids form, they may introgress into a red rice population within only a few generations. If hybrid seed families are to persist and establish herbicide-resistant red rice populations, they must successfully compete in the crop–weed complex. The ability to survive a herbicide applied to a herbicide-resistant rice variety would be a strong selective advantage for these hybrid families.”
                =====================================
                From the full paper.
                ” In a simplified model (assuming no gene flow between populations, constant population size, completely dominant herbicide resistance trait, and herbicide application once per generation), an initial resistance gene frequency of 1/100 will develop into a population with 50% of plants resistant after only two generations, whereas an initial frequency of 1/10,000,000,000 will require more than eight generations to achieve this 50% resistance frequency (Diggle and Neve 2001).”
                ———————————–
                Consider a simplified genetic model that assumes all seeds germinate to produce plants, that herbicide resistance (NN) and red pericarp color (RR) are both dominant traits imparting equal fitness in the absence of herbicide, and that 100% of the nonresistant plants are killed with herbicides for each crop generation. Under these conditions, plants would descend from a single seed in which pollen from an herbicide-resistant commercial rice plant (RRnn) has fertilized the stigma of an herbicide-susceptible red rice plant (rrNN) to produce a single F1 herbicide-resistant hybrid. Subsequent generations would segregate into a population containing greater than 95% herbicide-resistant plants within six generations
                (Figure 5) (R. McNew, personal communication;
                W. Yan, personal communication)”
                ====================================
                From the abstract: “Red rice has long been a troublesome, conspecific weed of cultivated rice.”

                • Eric Baumholder

                  The problem with red rice is cultural. People want their rice to be 100% white.

                  A decade ago I spoke with one of the scientists on the LibertyLink rice project. Like all plant molecular biologists, they were having a blast. I seriously have to wonder what these people would do for a vacation.

                  Anyhow, one thing they did for fun is breed up a batch of 100% red rice, cook it, and eat it. It actually had some interesting culinary properties, suggesting that red rice would make a value-added consumer product.

  • Henry Kuska

    Richard R asked August 22, 2011 at 9:51 am: “Finally, I am not sure of your overall point. Are you trying to show that nature is too complex for any amount of regulation or study to allow the release of GM products into the environment?”
    ——————————————
    H.Kuska comment. I am trying to provide “real world” facts. I am a retired educator / researcher. In my advanced graduate courses, I would often provide a paper for the graduate students to analyze in a group discussion similar to this forum. Statements are made. If I feel the statements are not accurate, I try to provide documentation for my interpretation. Part of graduate education is “unlearning” the simplified explanations that the students were sometimes/often(?) taught in undergraduate courses. Needless to say I benefited from these discussions also as young minds can often see problems with something that an “old” mind just accepts as “gospel”.
    ——————————————
    With regard to GM products, a number of the papers conclude something similar to what you pointed out: “Henry cites the conclusion of the article which states that “clarity, predictablily and an established risk assessment process …are critical to ensure that (GM) products can reach markets in a timely fashion.”
    ————————————–
    GM products are relatively new, and the procedures to regulate many of them are just now being developed. To the best of the scientific world’s ability, the procedures should be based on “real science” which may or may not be the same as company provided “science” and may or may not be more complex than what was taught in introductory courses or even advanced courses of an earlier time period.

    • Henry Kuska

      Please examine the points I have made in this thread with the following statement made in the following post:
      —————————————-http://gmopundit2.blogspot.com/2005/11/commentary-on-claims-of-20-loss-of.html
      ——————————————-
      “Hybrid crop varieties are always sold as the F1. That is the seed of a cross between two divergent parents. The heterosis created from such crosses overcomes problems caused by inbreeding depression. As the parents are divergent (otherwise there is no benefit to creating hybrids) the F2 will segregate and lose the advantage of hybrid vigour. The F2 will also segregate for all other traits that differ including disease tolerance and time to flowering and would be useless for commercial production. This is why growers of hybrid crops need to buy new seed every year. To talk about what might happen with yields of the F2 is pointless, as growers will never be growing the F2.”

      • Hi Henry – I examined the points you have made and I don’t understand the relationship with the comment you make below.

        • sorry – to clarify confusing late night post above – I don’t understand the relationship between the comments you have made in this thread and the quote you provide at August 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm

          • Henry Kuska

            ——————————————–
            Richard, see, for example the following posts:
            Henry Kuska on August 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm ·
            Henry Kuska on August 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm ·
            Henry Kuska on August 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm ·

            • I do not understand how the citation about hybrid canola yields and farming practices with those canola hybrids relates to your citations and comments about GM gene transfer from cross pollination.

              • Henry Kuska

                Nature is complex. This was a case where the F2 had a problem (at least in one area in Canada).
                —————————————–
                My exact statement on August 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm:
                “H.Kuska comment: There may be crops (such as Canola) where the above statement has been shown to be accurate by controlled research in a certain area. But as the 2 papers that I cited above show, Nature is complex; and there are cases where it is not accurate.”
                ——————————-
                On August 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm I stated: “When I mentioned Canola, I was thinking about this report:
                ————————————-
                http://www.saskcanola.ca/media/pdfs/report-Brandt-certifiedseed-short.pdf

                http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:fuOlcVGztFYJ:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=5,36&sciodt=0,36
                ————————————–
                that found that it was uneconomical (under their experimental conditions) to use F2 seed from F1 Canola hybrids. I was not thinking of rate of adoption.”

                • As far as I see, in relation to the statement

                  “Hybrid crop varieties are always sold as the F1….” (etc)

                  Nothing you’ve presented indicates otherwise – papers have indicated that the F2 and F3 may be superior or equal to the original best parent (at least for the traits which were the focus of the F1 heterosis) but in the context of Deadalus’ above statement this isn’t meaningful – if performance isn’t at the level of the F1 hybrid then economically it likely isn’t viable for the farmer to save seed – broadly the literature supports this – including the papers you have linked. Nobody (other than perhaps breeders and assorted geneticists who can use the information to make decisions in creating the next generations of hybrids, but lets assume we’re focussed on farmers here as that was what Deadalus was opining on)gives a flying monkey whether yields, yield components etc are close to the original parents – what matters is the comparison to the F1.

                  • Henry Kuska

                    ———————————-
                    Ewan R stated on August 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm : “– if performance isn’t at the level of the F1 hybrid then economically it likely isn’t viable for the farmer to save seed.”
                    ———————————-
                    H.Kuska comment. Both performance and cost have to be considered. In the case of the Canola study cited, the performance and cost analysis resulted in a recommendation to buy new seed each year. Even there the farmer may elect to not risk the cost of borrowing for new seed as (for example) a crop failure would not only result in no profit from selling the crop but in his possible bankruptcy for not being able to cover the loan.
                    ————————————-
                    From the literature that I presented, I expect that everyone can see that the “old” idea of zero F2 heterosis effect is incorrect. To a first approximation the F2 heterosis can be expected to be 50% of the F1 heterosis; but because Nature is more complex, it can be above or below that value.
                    —————————————-
                    Lets us look at the values reported for hybrid rice
                    http://www.springerlink.com/content/nhx85372063gg733/fulltext.pdf
                    The objective of the paper was to:
                    “A major constraint in exploitation of heterosis in the F1 generation in rice is the difficulty of producing sufficient hybrid seed. If the amounts of heterosis are large, it might be possible to use residual hybrid vigor in the F2 and F3 generations. This approach has been suggested for other self-pollinated cereals; for example, BRIGGLE (1963) reported a number of cases where heterosis was present in F2 and F3 generations of wheat.”
                    ——————————–
                    The last statement in the introduction is: “The present study was initiated to obtain more information on the magnitude of F1, F2, and F3 heterosis in rice.”
                    ———————————————
                    (In this paper to see if the F2, and/or F3 hybrids could be successful commercially.)
                    ——————————–
                    The emphasis in the paper was to compare yields of F1, F2, and F3 with the highest yielding initial parent (HP). But we can combine data from different tables to produce the comparisons of F2 and F3 with F1 that Ewan requests.

                    From Table 1 the F1 of (Colusa X Ku jung do) yields 118 % compared to the Colusa parent. From Table 5 the F2 of (Colusa X Ku jung do)yields 109 % relative to the (Ku jung do) grandparent.

                    From Table 5 the yield of (Ku jung do) is 6690 kg/ha and the yield of Colusa is 6460. Thus the F1 will yield 6460X1.18=7622.8 kg/ha. The F2 will yield 6690X1.09=7292.1 kg/ha. Surprisingly the F2 has 95.7 % of the F1 yield. Doing the same for F3 results in F3 having 92.1% of the F1 yield. If my math is correct, there is very little decrease in the F1 heterosis. IN THIS CASE.
                    ——————————
                    How did the authors use their data? Sincethe yields were not appreciably better then the best original type, they conclude that:
                    ——————————
                    “On the basis of yield alone, these twoexperiments indicate that using bulk F2 or F3 generations is not merited. ……………. Even so, bulk F2 and F3 generations may still be useful in situations in which simply inherited dominant resistance to a pest is needed very quickly and is not available in an adapted variety (JoDON, 1967; CARNAHAN et al., 1972).”

                  • The problem with using this analysis in the context of heterosis for GMO x weed is that the F2, F3, etc measures of heterosis are averages over whole populations, not individuals.

                    For a GMO x weed to become a population of superweeds, it is not the average over all offspring that matters, it is that the GMO x weed F1 has to be a superweed, the F2 has to be a superweed, the F3 has to be a superweed, and so on. If one generation doesn’t have enough superweed phenotypes, then that generation doesn’t produce the next superweed generation.

                    This requirement is very different than the heterosis exhibited in strains developed to exhibit hybrid vigor when crossed.

                    The inbreds used for the F0 parents are highly inbred, they are essentially identical. The F1 has a genome that is half one F0 and half the other. Those half genomes have been selected to interact and produce hybrid vigor. The F2, F3, etc has greater dispersion in the fraction of genome from the F0 parents.

                    This is nothing like what would happen with a GMO x weed. The weed was not selected to exhibit heterosis with the GMO. The only unique trait the weed could pick up from the GMO would be the trait delivered by the genetic modification. If that trait is for herbicide resistance, then all it means is that the weed is now resistant to that herbicide. Maybe the F1 weed exhibits some heterosis from being a hybrid, but only if the F2, F3, F4 has both heterosis and herbicide resistance does the possibility of a weedy phenotype persisting occur. The herbicide resistance is going to be transmitted in a Mendelian manner because it is due to a single gene and the F1 is heterozygous. Heterosis is polygenetic and won’t be transmitted in a Mendelian manner.

                    Hybrids from 40 years ago are very different than hybrids today.

                    • Henry Kuska

                      —————————–
                      daedalus2u stated on August 26, 2011 at 4:08 am: “The problem with using this analysis in the context of heterosis for GMO x weed is that the F2, F3, etc measures of heterosis are averages over whole populations, not individuals.”
                      ——————————-
                      H.Kuska comment. You are not considering my “kick start” comments. After the F1 with a GMO gene is produced, the thinking is that the subset of the F2, F3, F4, etc. that produce the “superweed” population will mainly be backcrosses with the weed population that contain the GMO gene. Thus one ends up with a plant that is all weed plus the GMO gene.
                      ——————————–
                      See my August 23, 2011 at 10:31 am post for a USDA analyis when the GMO is a herbicide.
                      ———————————
                      In my post on August 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm, I stated the following:
                      ———————————
                      “H.Kuska summarizing comment.
                      In GMO gene passing we are looking at a situation where GMO pollen fertilizes a nearby off site related “weed”. The GMO containing F1 is then most probably fertilizing or is fertilized by the original weed. Those of the F2 that contain the GMO gene are still most likely fertilized by or fertilize the original weed. Etc. Thus the GMO gene, after a number of generations will be on a weed very similar to the original weed. (The rate of take over of a weed field would be enhanced if the GMO gene was a herbicide resistent gene and if that herbicide was used yearly on the weed field.)”

                    • To all in this thread: this genetics discussion is very interesting, but it would be good to have a Weed Scientist add some reality to this picture but I’ll take a shot at it. What it takes for something to be a true “superweed” is a great deal more complex than what can happen with a lot of genes, let alone one. A herbicide tolerant weed is only an issue in fields dependent on that herbicide alone. Real superweeds are invasive because of a combination of things like high seeding rates and effective dispersal mechanisms, staggered dormancy, minimal pest susceptibility, ability to over-winter, high degree of competitiveness against multiple species (and not just crops)…

                      The term “superweed” is severely over-used and even makes its way into publications where it shouldn’t because none of the reviewers are real world weed ecology experts

                  • Henry Kuska

                    This a second comment regarding Ewan’s statement:
                    ———————————–
                    “Ewan R stated on August 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm : “– if performance isn’t at the level of the F1 hybrid then economically it likely isn’t viable for the farmer to save seed.”
                    ———————————-
                    This time looking at the cotton paper that I had cited.

                    http://www.fspublishers.org/ijab/past-issues/IJABVOL_10_NO_4/15.pdf
                    ————————————
                    Table II gives the yield for both the F1 and the F2 for 15 crosses. I calculated the F2/F1 values as suggested by Ewan. The following are the results, arranged from highest to lowest:
                    ————————————
                    1.11; 1.08; 1.05; 0.970; 0.947; 0.929; 0.922; 0.919; 0.893; 0.885; 0.849; 0.814; 0.782; 0.710;0.704.
                    ————————————
                    If farmers had these, the fact that they would not have to purchase new seeds would appear to make the decision to save seeds an attractive one for many of the above.
                    ————————————-
                    Ewan makes the following statement: “if performance isn’t at the level of the F1 hybrid then economically it likely isn’t viable for the farmer to save seed – broadly the literature supports this – including the papers you have linked.”
                    —————————
                    I suggest that the first part of the statement be changed to:
                    ——————————
                    “If the sum of saved cost and performance is not competitive with commercial F1s, it likely isn’t viable for the farmer to save seed.
                    —————————
                    Then he states:
                    ————————————-
                    “– broadly the literature supports this –”
                    ————————————-
                    He does not cite any of his own literature to support his “broadly” statement.
                    ——————————————
                    Please notice that he ended with:
                    ——————————
                    “including the papers you have linked”.
                    ————————————-
                    I suggest that this part be removed as the paper that I have linked to here shows that his “assumption” is not supported.

  • Eric Baumholder

    The supposed ‘risks’ of GM crops are not new. They’re the same as with conventional crops.

    The only real difference is that GM crops are under heightened scrutiny. It’s almost as if GM crops are supposed to have *fewer* risks than conventional crops.

    Look up ‘shattercane’. If GM sorghum were implicated, the sorghum would be illegal. In fact, the list of crops that would be illegal if they were GM is very long. Peanuts, potatoes, etc.

  • Henry Kuska

    Concerning F1, F2, F3 behavour, the following USDA paper may be useful in indicating that Nature starts to get complex and that a simple rule of no F2 heterosis and F3 depression is not the total picture.
    ———————————————
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/nhx85372063gg733/fulltext.pdf
    ———————————————–
    “F2 and F3 experiments
    Ten of the 12 bulk F2 hybrids in Experiment 70-1 equalled or slightly exceeded the yield of their high parent, but none significantly outyielded its high parent (Table 5). Similarly, although 6 of the 12 bulk F3 hybrids equalled or slightly exceeded their high parent, none outyielded its high parent significantly. Only 3 of 12 mixtures matched the high parents, and none significantly exceeded its high parent. The general yield sequence was F2> F3~ High Parent > mixture, indicating the presence of some residual heterosis.”
    ——————–
    (“Experiment 70-1 included six parent varieties, 12 F2 combinations among the six parents, the same 12 F3 combinations, and the corresponding 12 mixture combinations. Equal amounts by weight of seed of each variety entering the two-variety mixtures were composited to produce the mixture populations. A randomized complete block design was used, with four replications. Each plot consisted of four rows, 30 cm apart and 2.44 m long. Seeding rate in all F2 and F3 experiments was five grams per row, which is equivalent to about 70 kg/ha. The two center rows of each plot were harvested.”)
    =============================================
    H.Kuska summarizing comment.
    In GMO gene passing we are looking at a situation where GMO pollen fertilizes a nearby off site related “weed”. The GMO containing F1 is then most probably fertilizing or is fertilized by the original weed. Those of the F2 that contain the GMO gene are still most likely fertilized by or fertilize the original weed. Etc. Thus the GMO gene, after a number of generations will be on a weed very similar to the original weed. (The rate of take over of a weed field would be enhanced if the GMO gene was a herbicide resistent gene and if that herbicide was used yearly on the weed field.)

  • Henry Kuska

    ————————————–
    Sorry about the bad link.
    Use
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/nhx85372063gg733/
    to see the abstract.

  • Henry Kuska

    Steve Savage stated on August 26, 2011 at 10:12 am the following: ” Real superweeds are invasive because of a combination of things like high seeding rates and effective dispersal mechanisms, staggered dormancy, minimal pest susceptibility, ability to over-winter, high degree of competitiveness against multiple species (and not just crops)…..”
    —————————————-
    H.Kuska comment. No reference given for his very demanding definition. The term superweed has a defined meening:
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/superweed (“noun
    a weed which is extremely resistant to herbicides, especially one created by the transfer of genes from genetically modified crops into wild plants.”
    AND
    http://www.science-dictionary.com/definition/superweed.html
    AND
    http://www.definition-of.net/superweed
    AND
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/superweed
    AND
    http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Super+Weed
    And
    http://www.allwords.com/word-superweed.html

    H.Kuska comment. In actual application (from the standpoint of an individual farmer), I would expect that the term “superweed” is a relative one. For example: “Red rice has long been a troublesome, conspecific weed of cultivated rice.” If a farmer is growing a herbicide resistant rice crop and using the same herbicide to control any and all other plants in his fields (which would include normal “red rice” weeds), I would think that he would consider a herbicide resistant red rice as a superweed in his fields since he cannot detect that the young plants are any different than his desired crop. If by chance the GMO gene got also into a weed that was quite different in appearence, he would probably just pull the weed out and consider it as just an inconvience.

  • Henry Kuska

    —————————————-
    Steve Savage stated on August 26, 2011 at 10:12 am the following: ” Real superweeds are invasive because of a combination of things like high seeding rates and effective dispersal mechanisms, staggered dormancy, minimal pest susceptibility, ability to over-winter, high degree of competitiveness against multiple species (and not just crops)…..”
    —————————————-
    H.Kuska comment. No reference given for his very demanding definition. The term superweed has a defined meening:
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/superweed (“noun
    a weed which is extremely resistant to herbicides, especially one created by the transfer of genes from genetically modified crops into wild plants.”
    (I originally included links for other examples but that post was stopped because of two many links so I will remove the “http” from the other links.)
    AND
    ://www.science-dictionary.com/definition/superweed.html
    AND
    ://www.definition-of.net/superweed
    AND
    ://www.thefreedictionary.com/superweed
    AND
    ://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Super+Weed
    And
    ://www.allwords.com/word-superweed.html
    H.Kuska comment. In actual application (from the standpoint of an individual farmer), I would expect that the term “superweed” is a relative one. For example: “Red rice has long been a troublesome, conspecific weed of cultivated rice.” If a farmer is growing a herbicide resistant rice crop and using the same herbicide to control any and all other plants in his fields (which would include normal “red rice” weeds), I would think that he would consider a herbicide resistant red rice as a superweed in his fields since he cannot detect that the young plants are any different than his desired crop. If by chance the GMO gene got also into a weed that was quite different in appearence, he would probably just pull the weed out and consider it as just an inconvience.

    • H. Kuska,

      You are right that the definition of a super-weed is very different to a farmer than to the Oxford dictionary which simply follows popular use (or misuse). Since >98% of the population has no real experience of agriculture they can accept a trivialized definition like that in the dictionary. The accurate term is a “herbicide tolerant weed” and such things arise most often from natural mutations under selection pressure, not gene transfers from GMO crops. If you look at the problematic herbicide tolerant weeds today in soybeans or corn, none are related to the glyphosate tolerant crops in which they are a problem.

      As for your idea that a rice farmer would “just pull the weed out,” do you have any idea of the scale of a commercial rice operation? Hand weeding is definitely not imaginable there. You wouldn’t even do it on an acre of rice.

      • Henry Kuska

        Steve Savage stated on August 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm: “The accurate term is a “herbicide tolerant weed” and such things arise most often from natural mutations under selection pressure, not gene transfers from GMO crops.”
        —————————————–
        H.Kuska reply. No reference(s) is(are) given. Your “new” definition is very different from the first one that you gave but is at least close to the Oxford one: ” a weed which is extremely resistant to herbicides, especially one created by the transfer of genes from genetically modified crops into wild plants.”
        —————————-
        The emphasis in your definition, “most often from natural mutations under selection pressure” differs from the emphasis in Oxford, “especially one created by the transfer of genes”.
        ——————————–
        From my reading of the scientific literature, it appears that NOW the term superweed is being used extensively for both natural mutation and gene transfer. I would expect that Oxford will update to a more even balance in future editions.

        • Ewan R

          . No reference(s) is(are) given. Your “new” definition

          Frankly anyone remotely conversant with agriculture would agree with Steve’s assertion, no reference is required, no “new” definition is put forward. This, alas, is the problem with argumentum ad oxford dictionary

          Your first definition is clearly part moronic as there aren’t any major weeds of crop plants which are herbicide resistant due to transfer of a transgene (this definition appears to reflect public lack of knowledge in the area rather than anything meaningful)- instead, as Steve makes clear, they have arisen through selection of natural variation in the weed populations (via various equally interesting mechanisms)

          I second Steve’s derision of your alarming idea that farmers could just “pull the weed out” if it is obviously different to the crop – again not a mistake anyone remotely conversant with agriculture would make.

          • Henry Kuska

            —————————————
            Steve Savage stated on August 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm; “As for your idea that a rice farmer would “just pull the weed out,” do you have any idea of the scale of a commercial rice operation? Hand weeding is definitely not imaginable there. You wouldn’t even do it on an acre of rice.
            ———————————————–
            H.Kuska comment. Please see:
            http://hamptonroads.com/2009/07/nc-farmers-battle-herbicideresistant-weeds
            “Smith plans to hire a migrant crew to do the job by hand, a method not generally practiced in agriculture in about 50 years. Other farmers he knows are doing the same.”
            ———————————————-
            Of course, if you have other suggestions, please present them. Better yet please document them.

          • Henry Kuska

            ————————————–
            Ewan R stated on August 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm the following: “………………..as there aren’t any major weeds of crop plants which are herbicide resistant due to transfer of a transgene (this definition appears to reflect public lack of knowledge in the area rather than anything meaningful)……………”
            ———————————–
            H.Kuska comment. A new word can be introduced to describe a possibility.
            One of the definitions that I linked to states the following: “superweed Definition
            noun
            (Biotechnology) a weed resistant to herbicides that might develop in future as hybrid of a weed and a genetically modified plant”
            http://www.science-dictionary.com/definition/superweed.html
            ———————————————-

            —————————————-
            This is what the EPA says. “There is a possibility, however, of gene transfer from Bt cotton to wild or feral cotton relatives in Hawaii, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Where feral populations of cotton species similar to cultivated cotton exist, EPA has prohibited the sale or distribution of Bt cotton in these areas.”
            ———————————————
            H.Kuska comment. Please notice that the EPA document does not cover rice. Here is a 2011 scientific paper on rice:

            “Agronomic performance of F1, F2 and F3 hybrids between weedy rice and transgenic glufosinate-resistant rice”

            “CONCLUSION: There was no significant decrease in the composite agronomic performance of any of the hybrids compared with weedy rice. This implies that gene flow from transgenic cultivated rice to weedy rice could occur under natural conditions.”

            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ps.2132/full

            http://www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/biopesticides/regtools/biotech-reg-prod.htm#geneflow
            ——————————————–

      • Forgive my ignorance, but my understanding is that red rice refers to the color of the grain, not the plant. If you have to wait until the rice grain is present to identify it, you have waited too long for removing the plant to have much of an effect.

        Plants that are so close together that they can cross pollinate are likely very similar in appearance at early growth stages. Perhaps so similar that weeding by hand might not be possible.

        • To demonstrate that this is not a new issue, consider the parable of the “wheat and the tares” from the first century CE (Matthew 13:22-30) in which it is not possible to remove weeds that have been intentionally put into a field to contaminate it (early bioterrorism) because they look the same and pulling them will damage the crop.

        • Henry Kuska

          —————————————-
          daedalus2u stated on August 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm: “….. but my understanding is that red rice refers to the color of the grain, not the plant. If you have to wait until the rice grain is present to identify it, you have waited too long for removing the plant to have much of an effect.”
          ——————————————
          Yes, that is exactly my point. Earlier this week I was going to say that it is like the aliens in science fiction stories that have developed the ability to take human form. That is why the farmer is especially concerned about them (maybe it should be called a “super-superweed”). (Too bad the copyright office is closed on Sunday.) The definition would be a superweed that has developed the ability to take on the appearence of the corresponding GMO crop.

      • Henry Kuska

        Regarding handweeding. See:
        http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/cm/news/2011/SoybeanHerbicide/

        “Be Cautious With Late-Season Herbicide Applications in Soybean”
        ———————————–
        ” The only way to control large waterhemp plants at this time is through physical removal, he said.”

  • Eric Baumholder

    If herbicide tolerance is the hallmark of ‘superweeds’, then all HT maize and soybeans are ‘superweeds’, right out of the box. Obviously that’s quite ridiculous.

    Consider for a few moments the fact that all herbicides since they were first invented involved crops they did not kill. That’s the point of it all.

    And the dictionary isn’t the place to go for scientific wisdom on issues of molecular biology.

    If you want to see *actual* superweeds in action, check out kudzu in the southern US:
    http://www.invasive.org/browse/subthumb.cfm?sub=2425&start=1

    • Henry Kuska

      ——————————–
      Eric Baumholder stated on August 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm the following:
      ———————————
      “And the dictionary isn’t the place to go for scientific wisdom on issues of molecular biology.
      If you want to see *actual* superweeds in action, check out kudzu in the southern US…………………..”
      ——————————-
      H.Kuska reply. Your second sentence is an example of why you should look at a dictionary. Kudzu is a “super weed” not a “superweed”. Maybe it would of been better if they used a nonsense name such as the name of the originator, for example if the first person who wished to give a name to the idea of a superweed was named Smith he/she could of called this class of weeds “Smithweeds”. I hated when I came across examples of that in school as they were harder to memorize than names that gave the reader some idea of what they were referring to.

  • Henry Kuska

    Eric Baumholder stated on August 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm the following: “If herbicide tolerance is the hallmark of ‘superweeds’, then all HT maize and soybeans are ‘superweeds’, right out of the box. Obviously that’s quite ridiculous.”
    ——————————————-
    H.Kuska comment. I am sorry I cannot follow your interpretation of the definition. The first definition is: ” a weed which is extremely resistant to herbicides, especially one created by the transfer of genes from genetically modified crops into wild plants.”
    ——————————————————–

    • Eric Baumholder

      The difference between a weed and a crop is human intentions. If it’s been planted on purpose, it’s a crop or something similar, such as ornamentals, etc. If its presence is unintentional, and has a bad effect on something humans like more, it’s a weed.

      That’s not a very scientific approach.

      • Henry Kuska

        Eric Baumholder stated on August 27, 2011 at 9:50 am the following: “The difference between a weed and a crop is human intentions. If it’s been planted on purpose, it’s a crop or something similar, such as ornamentals, etc. If its presence is unintentional, and has a bad effect on something humans like more, it’s a weed.”
        ——————————————–
        H.Kuska comment. In the 50s and 60s I was trained and in the 60s to 90s I taught my students to be precise (use the pertinent dictionary meanings) in word selection/usage in scientific writing. One reason was that the document should be written with the assumption that it would be translated into other languages.
        ———————————-
        For example:

        http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/weed?region=us
        ———————————
        http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/crop?region=us
        ———————————

        The following article suggests both a dictionary and a thesaurus.

        http://www.shearsoneditorial.com/2011/05/le-mot-juste/#more-813
        ——————————————–

        Now with Google Scholar the very recent usage of a “new” word can often be easily determined by how it is used in the reviewed scientific literature.

        • Eric Baumholder

          Henry,

          There’s a big difference between orthography and the physical sciences. It is best to rely on the latter when discussing the physical sciences.

          • Henry Kuska

            Eric Baumholder stated on August 28, 2011 at 10:10 am the following: “There’s a big difference between orthography and the physical sciences. It is best to rely on the latter when discussing the physical sciences.”
            ———————————-
            A good dictionary is much more than a spelling resource to a trained scientist. I backed up my personal experience with a link that indicates that a scientist should be precise: “Part of my job as an ESL editor is to help authors choose the best word to precisely convey his or her intended meaning….”.
            ——————————————–
            An additional link for you to consider (that also mentions my previous point of being able to translate into other languages):
            ——————————–
            “Writing scientific documentation has a unique set of caveats, pitfalls, and red flags that other types of writing do not have. The very nature of scientific writing demands the precise use of words and phrases, however, this precise usage is often discounted as being pedantic by many people. The reason for this precision is to communicate sometimes highly technical information to others who may, or may not, be as knowledgeable as the author, and who may, or may not, be a native speaker of the language in which the author is writing. To do this, accurate words and phrases must be used, especially in light of globalization and sciences that involve multiple disciplines.
            http://www.paperpub.com.cn/admin/upload/file/200882010135918.pdf

            “These, of course, are in addition to a good dictionary and thesaurus, and some basic style guides, such as, Strunk and White’s classic “Elements of Style.” Depending on the type of scientific writing or editing, specialized references, such as Dorland’s or Stedman’s medical dictionaries (3 and 4) may be needed.”

  • I just want to take a second to take issue with Henry (who’d have guessed right?) on the following quoted section which I believe I missed earlier – amazing the thoughts that come to one at 3AM. I’m putting the whole quote in to save folk the time of searching for the actual comment. Pertinent pieces are bolded.

    “H.Kuska summarizing comment.
    In GMO gene passing we are looking at a situation where GMO pollen fertilizes a nearby off site related “weed”.The GMO containing F1 is then most probably fertilizing or is fertilized by the original weed. Those of the F2 that contain the GMO gene are still most likely fertilized by or fertilize the original weed. Etc. Thus the GMO gene, after a number of generations will be on a weed very similar to the original weed. (The rate of take over of a weed field would be enhanced if the GMO gene was a herbicide resistent gene and if that herbicide was used yearly on the weed field.)”

    Simply not true in the case of rice. There is a 0.09% cross pollination rate at a separation distance of 1m and 0.01% at a separation distance of 5m – and this from a tightly packed stand to another tightly packed stand. Rice predominantly self-pollinates – therefore most (99%+) of any F1 population would be pollinated by that F1 population (which would segregate in a 1:2:1 homo, hetero, null fashion with regards the transgene – and all carryover traits from the crop), most of the F2 population would be pollinated by the F2 population etc etc. Clearly variability in weed number, distance and agronomic practices around the field play a role in what would happen – if the weed population is sparse then you won’t get much in the way of cross pollination, and what cross pollination you do get will not have much of a chance at dispersal. If the weed population is much more than 5m away then cross pollination drops practically to zero. If the farm controls weeds in some other manner (ie mowing weeds on field borders) then small populations are going to have a hard time establishing.

  • The articles stress that the first step is the most improbable, but after the first step the F2 with weedy rice, F3 with weedy rice, etc. become very probable for the reasons that you have mentioned about the plants having to be close.

    What percentage are we calling very probable here? There is no mention of frequency of cross pollination at less than 1m in the paper cited above, and in This new phytologist paper it would appear that even 20cm spacing massively reduces cross pollination such that calling it very probable is clearly vacuous – 0.28% obviously means that the vast majority are still self pollinated (as one would predict from the flowering phenology of rice what with tight flowering times and ~4h pollen viability window) which still renders your prior statement erroneous.

    Couple of other points on the added “if” statement you require – as my main point was the elimination of plants bordering the field (as this would appear to be the only source of possible crosses to weeds outwith the field given the whole distance equation) the farmer can clearly identify these plants – they’re the ones… not in the field. For the second “if” on identification of the weedy rice in the field… one wonders what control methods are used when HT rice isn’t an option – as this is the baseline for comparison – if the red rice is uncontrollable within the field under non-HT growth then it matters not one jot that HT red rice may occur as there is no difference to the farmer one way or the other – red rice would simply be impossible to be rid of regardless – the HT rice in a worst case scenario offers multiple seasons of freedom from red rice in the field, if there is some other control method… again, no problem (this is, of course, equally applicable to any tolerance rising in any situation, and is one of the reasons that the terminology “superweed” (or super weed, or whatever spelling, spacing or italicizing you wish) is, in my opinion, stupid.

    • Henry Kuska

      —————————–
      Ewan, After the improbable F1 (the F1 is caused by wind blown GMO pollen reaching the weedy rice field) we have an GMO F1 located in a weedy rice field. There it is either self pollinated or pollinated by its weedy rice neighbors.
      ——————————
      The principle author of the 2006 link that you provided has a 2010 paper on the same subject.
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-7652.2009.00488.x/abstract
      ————————————–
      I have the full paper. Here are two “small” quotes for the GMOpollen: “Pollen grains were detected at the distance of 85.0 m in 2002 (1.0 m height: 25.5 ± 5.0 ⁄cm2; 1.5 m height: 51.6 ± 7.5 ⁄cm2) and 70.0 m in 2003 (1.0 m height: 228.8 ± 26.7 ⁄cm2; 1.5 m height: 270.6 ± 33.6 ⁄cm2) (values following ± indicate standard errors).”
      Also
      “Discussion
      Pollen flow in rice
      Our experimental data showed that both cultivated and common wild rice produced a large amount of wind-borne pollen that could disperse to a long distance (Figure 1). Within the experimental scales (~100 m), a simple exponential model can well represent pollen flow in rice.”

      • Ewan, After the improbable F1 (the F1 is caused by wind blown GMO pollen reaching the weedy rice field) we have an GMO F1 located in a weedy rice field. There it is either self pollinated or pollinated by its weedy rice neighbors.

        After the improbable F1 we have an F1 located in what now? A weedy rice field? Is it your assertion that weedy rice forms whole fields rather than isolated individuals?

        Indeed the F1 plant is either pollinated by itself or its weedy neighbors. To the extent that it is self pollinated in 99%+ of all cases and by its neighbors in <1% of all cases. This is not "very probable" at all but borderline very improbable.

        The weedy/GM rice, assuming it were to germinate (one wonders what percentage of seeds produced by a rice plant will end up succesfully producing offspring – a plant which ends up with 0.2% (assuming it is within 20cm) of its seed being cross pollinated may, well pose absolutely no threat of gene flow into the next generation if only a fraction of all seed ever make it to reproductive age in the next generation (which I think is a fair assumption given that the entire planet isn't covered in rice to a depth of 50m)) therefore pollinates itself practically exclusively, with perhaps a fraction of a percent of its grains being pollinated by weed pollen (and if it is adjacent to a high density field it is infact probably more likely based on the above presented data that it will get more crop than weed pollen anyway – pollen densities being an important factor)

        The fact that the pollen can disperse far and wide is neither here nor there – it is utterly secondary to the rates of cross pollination (these rates, no doubt, depend on the dispersal to an extent, but switching to focus on them is meaningless when you have the actual cross pollination data in hand for anything other than an explanatory or model building factor (which is exactly what the paper is using them for)

        This paper supports the idea either way – transgene flow within a field from GM to non-transgenic with 20cm separation (which the paper states is the same as zero separation due to canopy closure) was consistently lower than 1% in GM fields with non-GM plots (range from around .2% to .7%) and spectacularly lower yet for non-GM fields with some GM plots (which would be your fabled “weedy field”) – numbers are consistently below 0.1% in this case. Even if worst case cross pollination numbers stand (for some weed species this may be as high as 1-2%, which still doesn’t make it “very probable”)

        • Henry Kuska

          Weedy rice shatters so I would expect that the F1 “superweed” is often/most of the time in rather dense red rice “area” (perhaps the word “field” is not the most appropriate).
          —————————————–
          After F1,one does not have to depend on cross pollination as self pollinated “superweed” F1 will continue the spread (as you had mentioned). Your “new” older-2005 reference is by the same princial author as my 2010 paper. Please look at it as it also discusses how large a barrier will be needed to prevent the GMO escape.
          ——————————————
          I am the messenger. The scientists in the field are concerned is the message.

          • After F1,one does not have to depend on cross pollination as self pollinated “superweed” F1 will continue the spread (as you had mentioned).

            This would be the case had you not explicitly stated

            The articles stress that the first step is the most improbable, but after the first step the F2 with weedy rice, F3 with weedy rice, etc

            Furthermore

            Your “new” older-2005 reference is by the same princial author as my 2010 paper.

            and discusses actual cross pollination rates, rather than separation distances between large blocks – the former is more important to weedy presence in a field or bordering a field, the latter to either flow between fields or flow to what I am assuming is a rather unlikely large weedy block outside a field (and if such a 20m^2 block were to exist it would by virtue of not being in a field be eminently controllable and therefore not a concern) and model building based on worst case scenarios (an assumption of being surrounded by pollen source of infinite size, and a T of 40% (which assumes transfer from wild to wild, not crop to wild – the paper is explicit that T does not = 40% for crop to wild in any investigated instance)

            • Henry Kuska

              Ewan I based my summary partially of the USDA paper that I presented on August 23, 2011 at 10:31 am. I even used quotes to highlight the part about F1, F2 , etc. spread. After you informed me that the F1 GMO rice would possibly still mainly self pollinate (I do not know how many genes control self pollination), I added that option to my spread discussion.
              ————————————
              I was expecting that you would discuss the barrier points in the 2010 paper by the same principal author, see my request “Please look at it as it also discusses how large a barrier will be needed to prevent the GMO escape.”
              ————————————
              Ways to allow GMO crops while controlling “escape risks” is one of the main reasons scientists are looking at the characteristics of each type of GMO crop spread.
              Unfortunately I do not see how I can present this information accurately without using quotes so I will have to use quotes. ”
              ——————————-
              (In the following PGMF is “pollen-mediated gene flow”.)
              “In rice production practice, this illustrates that only a limited isolation distance (e.g. a few metres) could likely achieve significant reduction of gene flow frequencies in cultivated rice to <0.9% (Table 2) if large recipient plots (‡80 · 80 m2) are deployed, to minimize the potential ‘contaminations’ from GM rice." ……"Therefore, in fragmented wild rice populations, the frequencies of PMGF from nearby rice fields would be even higher than those estimated in large and continuous populations and accordingly longer isolation distances would be required."
              "It is necessary to point out that the frequency of <1% set for crop-to-crop PMGF is definitely too high for crop-to-wild PMGF, because even a much lower than <1% transgene flow to wild population may significantly affect evolution of a wild population as indicated by Ellstrand (2003). Therefore, effective isolation should be required to reduce the crop-to-wild PMGF to a minimum level to avoid ecological consequences in rice if an escaped gene has natural selection advantage. In such a case, spatial isolation alone may not be effective to avoid crop-to-wild PMGF. As a consequence, it is suggested that GM rice varieties should not be cultivated in the vicinity of common wild rice populations to avoid possible ‘genetic contamination’ (Chen et al., 2004; Song et al., 2005)."
              ———————————

  • The red rice weed is only a problem if it is growing in the same field as the rice crop. If it is growing in the same field as the rice crop, then it will be harvested along with the rice crop and the red rice seeds will not end up in the field to produce the next generation of weeds.

    • Henry Kuska

      If numerous scientists study and if reviewers approve and editors accept studies that indicate genetic mixing of GMO rice and red rice is a concern, then I assume that it is/would be a non trivial problem for farmers. These studies are done to determine if it is necessary to provide some precautions (such as a buffer, alternating to a rice with a GMO resistant to a different herbicide, etc.) for the non trivial problems.
      ———————————
      Specifically to your point quoted above. From my reading, I assume that the rice “superweeds” would be formed off field by wind transporting the GMO rice pollen to the red rice “off field” weeds (as much as 100 meters according to one study). Some of the resulting seeds of the resulting “superweed” wild rice will be then transported by the same means that bring normal red rice into the farmer’s field such as birds, animals/ and or fish. The normal red rice seeds that are carried into the farmers field would produce seedlings that would be killed by the Round-Up. Any seeds that came in with the Round-Up resistent trait would produce seedlings that would survive the Round-Up treatment. Depending on whether the “superweed” seedlings are F1s, F2s, F3s, etc. they would have increasing amounts of shattering(with higher Fx). (I assume that the concern among scientists is that many of the higher Fx “superweed” seeds would of been on the ground at harvest time.)

    • Henry, if there are red rice weeds in/near fields where farmers are growing rice now, then farmers are already successfully dealing with red rice weeds without using herbicides. Those methods will continue to work with red rice weeds that have HT equal to that of the rice crop. The HT of both is now zero, if the HT of both became high there would be no difference and farmers will have to revert back to what ever non-herbicide methods they are using now.

      Saying that some scientists say there is a problem is an appeal to authority, not an explanation of what the problem is.

      • Henry Kuska

        Sorry, I cannot follow your logic. “if there are…..then farmers are already successfully …..”
        —————————————-
        I also have no idea what “HT” is.
        ——————————————-
        The scientific literature is saying that red rice is a problem.
        I then put into my own words what my reading of the literature indicates the mode of action of the problem.
        ————————————-

        • I would refine deadalus2u’s point to be more that if one assumes that red rice is dealt with somehow at present (or at least isn’t such an issue that it prevents cultivation of rice) then the problem you see by transferring HT (Herbicide tolerance) to the red rice would merely mean a return to the status quo – red rice will be no more, or less, weedy than it is at present – it will simply be more weedy within fields using the herbicide regime as compared to the non-HT variety (non-HT red rice would not be a weed in these fields)

          Perhaps you can explain why (or if, it isn’t exactly clear) the presence of HT in red rice would make it comparitively more weedy than it is in a situation where the HT hybrids are not utilized. If it isn’t (which is the only logical conclusion I can see) then perhaps you’d care to expound on why, other than making the GM/Herbicide regime less effective (with respects only to red rice – one assumes more weeds plague rice fields), this would be a bad thing.

          • Henry Kuska

            Each of the scientific papers that examines the spread of GMOs, explains in the introduction why the research was done (and of course explains why the reviewers and editor felt it was worth publishing).
            —————————————-
            I am a messenger of what science is doing. The experts in that particular area are the scientists, reviewers, and editors. I make the assumption that they are working with the actual farmers to solve real and/or potential problems.

  • Eric Baumholder

    daedalus2u,

    The worst thing I’ve ever heard about red rice is that consumers allegedly find red kernels to be unsightly.

    Gotta wonder when it will be alleged that consumers find Golden Rice kernels amid white rice to be unsightly. With claims of ‘contamination’, of course.

    If Greenpeace is willing to ‘decontaminate’ Australian field trials of wheat with health benefits, can we really count on the safety of field trials of rice with health benefits?

    The battle is only barely begun.

  • Henry Kuska

    More red rice concerns. “Optimizing Rotation to Limit Red Rice Resistance”

    See: http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/cm/news/2011/RedRice/

    • CLEARFIELD® rice was developed by mutating the DNA of conventional rice with radiation and then making selections following crosses with other conventional varieties. Because CLEARFIELD® rice maintains pure DNA from only rice, it is not considered a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). This is critical because of potential marketing constraints associated with GMO crops.

      http://www.aragriculture.org/crops/rice/Publications/clearfield.pdf

      I guess this demonstrates that these concerns are not specific to GMO and are part of farming in general.

    • I also see in Henry’s link that GM soy (be it Roundup Ready or Liberty Link) appears to provide an agronomic solution to help manage red rice herbicide resistance issues in non-GM Clearfield Rice.

      • Eric Baumholder

        I had thought that all farmers were familiar of the benefits of rotating crops. Apparently they aren’t.

        The recent problem with Bt-resistant corn rootworms were in two fields of continuous corn.

        These are failures of stewardship, and if farmers don’t do the right thing voluntarily, they’re going to have bureaucrats to contend with. Which is *way* worse than Roundup-resistant Palmer amaranth.

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