Long-term persistence of GM oilseed rape in the seedbank

Tina D'Hertefeldt, Rikke B Jørgensen, Lars B Pettersson


Coexistence between genetically modified (GM) and non-GM plants is a field of rapid development and considerable controversy. In crops, it is increasingly important to understand and predict the GM volunteer emergence in subsequent non-GM crops. Theoretical models suggest recruitment from the seedbank over extended periods, but empirical evidence matching these predictions has been scarce. Here, we provide evidence of long-term GM seed persistence in conventional agriculture. Ten years after a trial of GM herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape, emergent seedlings were collected and tested for herbicide tolerance. Seedlings that survived the glufosinate herbicide (15 out of 38 volunteers) tested positive for at least one GM insert. The resulting density was equivalent to 0.01 plants m−2, despite complying with volunteer reduction recommendations. These results are important in relation to debating and regulating coexistence of GM and non-GM crops, particularly for planting non-GM crops after GM crops in the same field.


    • Received March 4, 2008.
    • Accepted March 18, 2008.
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