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The wild plants may possess the advantage of resistance to herbicides. Credit to Xiao Yang
A genetic-modification technique used widely to make crops herbicide resistant has been proven to confer advantages on an invasive form of rice even in absence of the herbicide. This indicates that the modifications could have an impact on the environment beyond farms.

There are many kinds of crops are genetically modified to be resistive to glyphosate. Roundup was the first herbicide to be sold. This resistance to glyphosate allows farmers to eradicate most weeds without causing any damage to their crop.

ラウンドアップ Glyphosate inhibits an enzyme known as EPSP synthase that is responsible for the creation of specific amino acids as well as various other molecules. It can also inhibit the growth of plants. Genetic modification, like the Roundup Ready crops manufactured by Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri, involves inserting genes into a plant’s genetic code to increase EPSP production. Genes are typically derived from bacteria that cause disease to crops.

ラウンドアップ This extra EPSP synthase permits plants to resist the effects of glyphosate. Biotechnology labs tried to use plant genes to boost EPSP synthase activity. This was partly to make use of a loophole that is in US law that permits the regulatory approval of organisms containing transgenes which have not come from pests caused by bacteria.

Few studies have looked into whether transgenes, such as those that confer resistance to glyphosate, can increase the resilience of plants in survival and reproduction once they cross-pollinate with wild or weedy species. Norman Ellstrand, a University of California plant geneticist claims that, without selection pressure, any type of transgene is likely to cause disadvantages in wild plants. The extra machinery would decrease fitness.

Lu Baorong, an ecologist from Fudan University in Shanghai has revised that opinion. He has discovered that glyphosate resistance gives a significant fitness lift to the weedy variant of the standard rice crop Oryza Sativa.

Lu and colleagues altered cultivars of rice to increase its EPSP synthase. The modified rice was crossed with a wild ancestor.

The researchers then allowed cross-breeding offspring to be bred together to produce second-generation hybrids. They were genetically identical with the exception of the number and copy count of the EPSP synthase gene. As expected, those with more copies expressed higher levels of the enzyme and also produced more amino acids tryptophan than their non-modified counterparts.

Researchers also found that transgenic hybrids are more photogenic, they produced more plants per plant and had 48-125 percent higher yields of seeds than non-transgenic varieties.

Lu says that making weedy crops more competitive may create more difficulties to farmers all over the world whose crops are affected by the insect.

Brian Ford-Lloyd (a UK plant geneticist) claims that if the EPSP-synthase gene is introduced into wild rice species, then their genetic diversity which is vital to preserve could be endangered. The transgene would outcompete natural species. This is among the clearest examples of extremely likely negative effects of GM crop on the environment.”

This research also challenges the idea that genetically modified crops containing extra copies of their genes are safer than those that contain microorganisms’ genes. Lu says, “Our study shows this is not the case.”

According to some research, the finding suggests that future regulation of genetically engineered crops should be reviewed. Ellstrand claims that some people believe that biosafety regulations could be relaxed since we have two decades of genetic engineering. “But the research still suggests that new products need an in-depth evaluation.”