Genetically Modified Crops May Pass Helpful Traits to Weeds

By Chuck Terhark
August 30, 2002 Issue
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Genetically Modified Crops May Pass Helpful Traits to Weeds, Holly Wagner, OSU Research News
While commercial crops may reap certain benefits from genetic modification-- higher yield and reproduction, increased defenses--a recent study by Ohio State University professor Allison Snow proves that those same traits may be passed on to weeds. These new "super weeds" are much stronger and more fertile, resulting in higher potential damage to commercial farming. The OSU study observed sunflowers with a modified gene, or "transgene," that is toxic to insect pests. The sunflowers then crossbred with their weedy relatives. The resulting hybrid weeds produced 50 percent more seeds than the original weeds, and demonstrated increased defense against insect damage. "Weeds are already hardy plants," says Snow. "The addition of transgenes could just make them tougher."
--Chuck Terhark
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