This week it was announced that roughly 86% of wild canola plants in North Dakota contain GMO attributes.
More surprising, some of these plants contain several GMO traits that are not available together in seeds. That means the GMO plants are breeding in the wild, producing new, unplanned combinations.
The existence of wild GMO plants raises a lot of interesting issues.
First, there’s concern that this is the first step in a process where we lose control of GMO. If GMO plants spread in the wild, how can we keep non-GMO plants segregated? What does that mean for the future of organic food and non-GMO claims?
Second, people worry wild GMO plants will spread into other crop fields where they will become weeds. However, because they have GMO traits, they will be resistant to herbicide. What can farmers do? Apply even more powerful herbicides? How does that impact food purity?
Third, there’s some chance that rogue breeding in the wild could produce “Frankenfood” GMO plants. Will consumers worry about that possibility?
Finally, US consumers are not all that engaged in the global GMO debate. Will this get them involved? Will they become more focused on eating organic? Will they demand new ways to ensure food safety? Or, will they decide that they might as well accept GMO because it is inevitable?
What do you think?