Environmental biosafety and transgenic potato in a centre of diversity for this crop

B.C. Celis Gamboa, M. Scurrah, S. Cowgill, S. Chumbiauca, J. Green, J. Franco, G. Main, D. Kiezebrink, R.G.F. Visser, H.J. Atkinson

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Abstract

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics(1,2) suggests that introgression of genetic material into related species in centres of crop biodiversity is an insufficient justification to bar the use of genetically modified crops in the developing world. They consider that a precautionary approach to forgo the possible benefits invokes the fallacy of thinking that doing nothing is itself without risk to the poor. Here we report findings relevant to this and other aspects of environmental biosafety for genetically modified potato in its main centre of biodiversity, the central Andes. We studied genetically modified potato clones that provide resistance to nematodes, principal pests of Andean potato crops(3). We show that there is no harm to many non-target organisms, but gene flow occurs to wild relatives growing near potato crops. If stable introgression were to result, the fitness of these wild species could be altered. We therefore transformed the male sterile cultivar Revolucion to provide a genetically modified nematode-resistant potato to evaluate the benefits that this provides until the possibility of stable introgression to wild relatives is determined. Thus, scientific progress is possible without compromise to the precautionary principle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-225
JournalNature
Volume432
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • level physiological profiles
  • genetically-modified crops
  • nematode resistance
  • microbial community
  • globodera-pallida
  • nontarget aphids
  • plant cystatin
  • risk
  • variability
  • rhizosphere

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    Celis Gamboa, B. C., Scurrah, M., Cowgill, S., Chumbiauca, S., Green, J., Franco, J., Main, G., Kiezebrink, D., Visser, R. G. F., & Atkinson, H. J. (2004). Environmental biosafety and transgenic potato in a centre of diversity for this crop. Nature, 432, 222-225. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03048