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New evidence reveals that despite a ban on cultivation of GM rapeseed in Europe, Monsanto and Bayer's plants are now freely growing there.
A new study published in PLoS titled ,"Unexpected Diversity of Feral Genetically Modified Oilseed Rape (Brassica napus L.) Despite a Cultivation and Import Ban in Switzerland," is believed to be the first report of its kind showing that despite a cultivation and seed import ban of genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape in Switzerland, Monsanto and Bayer's GM plants have been introduced into the environment there, confirming fears that once the GM genie has been let out of the bottle it can not be put back.
The GM plants were found growing freely along railway lines and in port areas at four sites in 2011 and 2012, with the most afflicted being the Rhine port of Basel and the St. Johann freight railway station in Basel, Switzerland. The glyphosate-resistant GM plants were identified as Monsanto's Roundup-Ready GM event GT73. Additionally, the researchers found the glufosinate-resistant GM events MS8xRF3, MS8 and RF3 (all traded as InVigor, Bayer) at five sampling locations in the Rhine port. They noted that this is, to their knowledge, the first time that Bayer's feral MS8xRF3, MS8 or RF3 plants were detected in Europe.
Another concerning finding was the discovery of 'outcrossing' (transference of genetic material between differing plant strains) between Monsanto's GT73 GM plant and two non-GM oilseed rape plants. This confirms fears that GM plants are capable of transforming conventional and/or organically produced plants into GM ones (i.e. 'biorape').
In fact, the study addresses this possibility directly:
"Another concern with respect to the cultivation of GM OSR [genetically modified oilseed rape] is an unintended gene flow towards conventional or organic OSR crops which could lead to co-existence conflicts between different farming systems ."
What is even more remarkable about the discovery of feral GM plants in Europe is that they have been banned from cultivation:
"In the European Union, GM OSR cultivation is presently prohibited and authorization for the import for food and feed processing is confined to the GM OSR events GT73 (Roundup Ready, Monsanto), MS8, RF3, MS8xRF3 and T45 (all traded as InVigor, Bayer CropScience). GM crop plants have found even less acceptance in Switzerland where currently neither the import nor the cultivation of GM OSR is allowed at least until the end of 2017 , . Nevertheless, the spread of GM OSR cannot totally be prevented by cultivation or import bans. In Japan, where GM OSR is imported but not cultivated, feral glyphosate- and glufosinate-resistant GM OSR plants have repeatedly been detected in port areas and along transportation routes -. The feral GM plants found most likely originated from imported transgenic seeds that were spilled during transport to oilseed processing facilities. Two countrywide studies from Switzerland have reported the occurrence of glyphosate-resistant GT73 OSR from four sites in 2011 and 2012 , . The case of Switzerland is remarkable, because GM OSR has neither been cultivated nor imported into the country." [emphasis added]