Science - April 14, 2010

Gene technology changes plants less than trad plant breeding

Genetically, crops are changed far more by classic plant breeding methods than by genetic modification. This claim has been made in the scientific journal PNAS by researchers from the Justus Liebig University in the German town of Giessen.

 The scientists crossbred two varieties of barley, Baronesse and Golden Promise, and sowed the seed obtained in experimental fields. On other plots, they sowed two transgene variants of these barley varieties with resistance to soil fungi. The transgene varieties were less different from the parent plants than the crossbreeds obtained through classic breeding methods, DNA analysis showed.
Moreover, useful soil fungi have more influence on the chemical composition - the metabolites - of the barley plants than does the breeding method, the researchers found. They conducted field tests over several years. These tests were regularly destroyed by opponents of genetic modification. The publication in PNAS came out last week.