First Wild Canola Plants with Modified Genes Found in United States

Two young scientists at the University of Arkansas have stumbled upon wild canola that have genetically modified genes – meaning they have cross-bred on their own with laboratory-created, herbicide-resistant plants.

Graduate student Meredith Schafer told Newswise.com that she and Cynthia Sagers spotted some pretty yellow flowers in a ditch in Langdon, North Dakota, and decided to test the plants for genetically modified proteins found in canola.

Using test strips they had on hand for another research project, they learned that the "wild" plants contained transgenic proteins that convey herbicide to crop plants.

The women then traveled over 3,000 miles testing other specimens, and found that 83 percent of the wild canola they tested contained transgenic material.

The implications of this find are disturbing: the herbicides found in these plants are not commercially available, Schafer said – and current farming practices may quickly make the problem worse, resulting in weeds that are herbicide and pesticide resistant.

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