[FI] Non-flowering GM birches behave like conventional plants

Scientists at the University of Joensuu have been conducting a field trial with 600 birch trees for more than a year. Half of the birch trees are genetically modified to be sterile. So far, the trial has found no noticeable differences between the conventional and the GM plants.

Conventional and GM birches - is there a difference?
Conventional and GM birches - is there a difference?
The project aims to identify environmental risks associated with the genetically modified birch trees. Beside testing the concept of sterility for preventing the transfer of the transgene to wild populations, the researchers want to know how environmental stress, or treatments known to influence flowering, affect sterility, and whether the introduced sterility alters the palatability of saplings to herbivores. The project also investigates further potential impacts of sterility such as influences on the performance and population dynamics of the herbivores and changes in the decomposition rate of leaf litter.

Since the previous field trial with GM birches was destroyed two years ago - as was a field trial with GM potatoes in 2005 - the trial site is strictly guarded. Final results of the project are expected in spring 2007.


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