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Crop Biotech Update

Pollen- and Seed-Mediated Transgene Flow in Commercial Cotton Seed Production Fields

December 3, 2010

The transfer of genes from transgenic to non transgenic crop plants is one of the arguments about recombinant DNA technology. Thus, Shannon Hauberger and co-workers at the University of Arizona, conducted a study to investigate the gene flow of Bt cotton cry1Ac transgene in 15 non-Bt cotton commercial seed production fields (with some transgenic for herbicide tolerance). They measured various factors that could possibly influence the transmission of transgenes in the field such as the distance of the production field from the Bt corn field, density of pollinators, and farming operations.

Results showed that pollinating insects, which were suspected to be the major factor in the movement of transgenes into neighboring crops, had lesser impact in the gene flow than human farming operations. Less than 1% of the collected seed samples from the field edges were affected by pollinators (pollen-mediated), producing outcrossed seeds; while 15% of the seeds produced adventitious plants due to seed bags and planting error (seed-mediated).

Read the open access research article at