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Trends Biotechnol. 2006 Mar;24(3):109-14. Epub 2006 Feb 7.

Evaluating genetic containment strategies for transgenic plants.

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AAAS Science Fellow, US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 8623N, WA, DC 20460, USA.


One of the primary concerns about genetically engineered crop plants is that they will hybridize with wild relatives, permitting the transgene to escape into the environment. The likelihood that a transgene will spread in the environment depends on its potential fitness impact. The fitness conferred by various transgenes to crop and/or wild-type hybrids has been evaluated in several species. Different strategies have been developed for reducing the probability and impact of gene flow, including physical separation from wild relatives and genetic engineering. Mathematical models and empirical experimental evidence suggest that genetic approaches have the potential to effectively prevent transgenes from incorporating into wild relatives and becoming established in wild populations that are not reproductively isolated from genetically engineered crops.

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