• Assessing the Impact of Pollen-mediated Gene Flow from GM Herbicide Tolerant Brassica Napus into Common Wild Relatives in Ireland

      Collier, Marcus J.; Mullins, Ewen; Environmental Protection Agency; Teagasc; ERTDI 2006-B-MS-46; 2007-B-DS-1-S1 (Royal Irish Academy, 30/04/2012)
      Although now we have had many years of research completed on assessing the potential environmental impact of GM crops, concern remains over their potential impact on biodiversity in the rural landscape. In particular, issues have arisen in regards to the modification of crops with traits that could introgress into sexually compatible wild relatives. In contrast to wheat, barley, potato and maize, Brassica napus (oilseed rape) is the only commercial crop grown in Ireland at present with the potential to successfully transfer its DNA, via pollen-mediated gene flow, into inter-related weed species. This review details the species in question and by examining the relevant literature that relates to Irish agronomic conditions, demonstrates that gene flow is likely to occur, especially to an earlier used cultivar, Brassica rapa. However, the critical factor remains not that GM traits will flow from the commercial source but what might the consequences of said gene flow events be. This review indicates that the conferred trait in question (in this case, herbicide tolerance) can only impact on weed diversity in the presence of selecting herbicide action. In the absence of the herbicide, the GM traits will be lost from the wild species over time and will not confer any selective advantage that could facilitate population growth.
    • GM Crop Cultivation in Ireland: Ecological and Economic Considerations

      Meade, Connor; Mullins, Ewen; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (Phase 1) (Royal Irish Academy, 31/03/2005)
      Like many states in the European Union, Ireland has yet to fully commit itself to geneticallymodified (GM) crop technology. The general position of the Irish Government is ‘positive but precautionary’. However, with the European‐wide de‐facto moratorium on commercial production of GM crops now ended, many strategically important decisions regarding the commercial deployment of such crops and their co‐existence with conventional/organic crops need to be considered. To date, little research on the environmental impact of GM crops has been carried out in Ireland, and the provision of relevant local information lags far behind that available in other countries in the European Union. In this paper, we discuss much of the new ecological and economic data that have emerged since the moratorium on GM crops was introduced in 1998, assess the likely impacts of pest‐oriented GM crops should they be introduced to Ireland and examine criteria for post‐release monitoring. We also describe the likely commercial demand for these crops and the consequent priorities for ecological research. We argue that the impact of GM technology needs to be assessed in relation to the environmental impact of modern agriculture as a whole. Public unease in relation to this technology may be addressed if adequate resources are made available for independent Irish research on the issue.