Scientists Assess Transgene Flow of GM Tomato and Its Effect on Feeding Behavior of Bumblebees
One of the concerns about planting biotech crops is the transfer of transgenes into the environment, which may affect the function of pollinators. Gene flow is not widely studied in biotech tomato. Scientist S. Arpaia of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies (ENEA) and colleagues conducted experiments to evaluate the possibility of gene flow from biotech tomato plants to sexually compatible plants, and to assess the effect of biotech tomato on the performance of bumblebee.
The team used insecticide resistant tomato with Cry3Bb1 as model system for the study and conducted artificial crosses between a GM tomato line, wild tomato relatives, and non-GM tomato variety; bumblebee-mediate crosses between GM and non-GM tomato plants. No hybrids were produced in crossing the GM tomato with the wild relatives. In the setup where there were more non-GM receptor plants than GM plants, the bumblebee-mediated cross-fertilization rate between GM and non-GM plants was measured at 4.3 ± 5.47%. The team found no significant differences in the feeding behavior of bumblebees feeding on GM and non-GM plants.
The team concluded that the probability of gene flow from GM tomato to wild plants is negligible, bumblebees can mediate cross fertilization between GM and non-GM tomato, and GM tomato does not affect the feeding behavior of bumblebees.
Read the abstract of the study at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-7348.2012.00559.x/abstract.
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)