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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2009 Mar;16(2):120-6. doi: 10.1007/s11356-008-0074-4. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Dispersal and persistence of genetically modified oilseed rape around Japanese harbors.

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1
Faculty of Environment and Information Science, University of Yokkaichi, Kayao-cho 1200, Yokkaichi, 512-8512, Japan. m-kawata@kvd.biglobe.ne.jp

Abstract

BACKGROUND, AIM, AND SCOPE:

The possibility of gene transfer from genetically modified oilseed rape (OSR) to its cultivated or wild relatives is of concern since its commercial cultivation, because of its potential weediness and impact on the environment. Introgression of modified genes can affect conservation of agricultural crops, because there are many cultivars and wild Brassicaceae that may cross with genetically modified OSR (Brassica napus) in Japan. Japan imports more than 2 million tons of OSR a year from Canada and other countries. Since volunteers of GM OSR were found around harbors in 2004, a lot of feral GM OSR was discovered in Japan. To consider the way how to keep domestic Brassicaceae from GM contamination, we surveyed and analyzed the dispersal and persistence of GM OSR around Japanese harbors. We present the cause and abundance of GM OSR in Japan by this paper.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Survey of the feral OSR was performed several times a year at different seasons when domestic OSR either grows or does not around port areas. Detection of herbicide tolerance in feral B. napus was done by test papers that cross react with the modified gene product. Two kinds of herbicide tolerance (glyphosate and glufosinate) were tested.

RESULTS:

The feral B. napus were discovered around all 13 harbors that import rapeseeds from foreign countries. Genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant OSR were frequently found in the surveyed populations. Two kinds of herbicide-tolerant OSR (glyphosate- and glufosinate-tolerant) were discovered in a natural condition 40 km from port to an oil factory where 60,000 tons of OSR seed are processed a year. The cause of voluntary growth of OSR is seed spillage during transportation by trucks from harbors to oil factories and other processing facilities. Some of the feral OSR growing along the roadsides of transport paths exhibited perennial growth spilling their seeds around the places. Alteration of the generation of feral GM OSR was discovered for the first time in Japan as a result of this study. We studied the yearly change of feral OSR abundances focusing on Yokkaichi port over the 4 years since 2004. The rate of GM OSR increases year to year, and reaches nearly 90% in 2008.

DISCUSSION:

The possibility and consequences of gene transfer from the genetically modified OSR to domestic species (B. rapa and B. juncea) were discussed in relation to impact on domestic agriculture and on environments. Evolutional meaning of the gene transfer was also discussed with respect to the gene construct of GM OSR. This study shows the importance of another pathway of modified gene transfer to non-GM relative species by seed transportation in addition to pollen transfer from commercial cultivation of genetically modified OSR.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

We identified unintended dispersal and persistence of GM OSR around Japanese harbors that import OSR from Canada and other countries. Both glyphosate- and glufosinate-tolerant feral B. napus were discovered. The cause of volunteer OSR is spillage of the seeds during transportation by truck to oil factory. The feral GM OSR sometimes showed perennial growth in Japanese phonological conditions which are not observed for domestic Brassicaceae. In addition, we confirmed an alteration of generations by feral GM OSR in Japan. The possibility of cross pollination and GM gene introgression to domestic varieties can occur in these environments. To improve the situation, each responsible organization, company, administration, or government should establish measures how to stop the dispersal and persistence of GM OSR in nature. Also, the GM plant developers are responsible for revising this situation.

PMID:
19050951
DOI:
10.1007/s11356-008-0074-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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