misleading news release

Jeanne Romero-Severson romeros at fourway.net
Sat Sep 19 08:55:14 EST 1998


I know of no case in which maize was successfully crossed with Timothy. This
assertion, along with the "Artificially created plants" phrase are stunning
examples of  inaccuracy. I would use stronger words, but prefer to think
that the writer was merely mis-informed and not acting out of malice.

Jeanne Romero-Severson

David Kendra wrote:

> Elizabeth Lee wrote:
>
> > This showed up in my mailbox yesterday via a producer's group.  I
> > thought that the maize news group should be aware of this misleading
> > news release..
> >
> > Liz
> >
> > "PROMISCUOUS PLANTS MAY SPREAD GENES TO WEEDS
> > Sept. 2/98: from a University of Chicago Medical Center press release
> >
> > Crops engineered to contain genes that give them resistance to pests or the
> > ability to produce lots of seeds, could pass these genes to their weedier
> > cousins producing hybrid strains of super-weeds, says Joy Bergelson,
> > assistant professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago..
> > Her findings will be reported in the September 3 correspondence pages of
> > Nature..
>
> So basically she is writing a "letter to the editor".  What data does she
>have
> to support her claims?
>
> > Artificially created plants, like wild plants, can breed with
> > closely related species to produce hybrids in what is called out-crossing..
> > For example, corn, which is a grass, can cross with timothy grass, an
> > abundant weed..
>
> How often does corn cross with Timothy grass in nature?  What is the hybrid
> called and where can i get some seed from naturally occuring crosses?
>
> > If the corn contains a gene that confers resistance to a
> > pesticide, the resultant "weedy" hybrid may become a pesticide-resistant
> > nuisance that can compete with crops for water and nutrients. Farmers
> > haven't worried about outcrossing because most crop plants are
> > self-fertilizing, so their genes were considered unlikely to migrate to
> > other species. But Bergelson has demonstrated that plants thought to be
> > "selfing" can outcross with closely related species, and that the rate of
> > outcrossing appears to be enhanced by the fact that they are transgenic..
>
> Why would the transgenic trait enhance outcrossing?
>
> > To test the frequency of outcrossing in transgenic plants, Bergelson grew
> > three different kinds of Arabidopsis,
>
> Arabidopsis is a weed.  Corn is domesticated.  How can you make the leap from
> Arabadopsis to maize?
>
> Best regards,
> Dave Kendra






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