On June 6 in the French town of Versailles, the European Commission kicked off a comprehensive €13.5 ($16.4) million research project on the coexistence and traceability of genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops.
The project, dubbed Co-Extra, will study and validate biological containment methods and hopes to come up with practical ways to organize separate supply chain routes. The outcomes will support Europe to deal with the arrival of GMOs, according to a Commission press invitation. More than 50 institutes from 10 EU and 5 non-EU countries take part in the research, most of which will deal with methods for detecting and tracing of GM products in food and feed claimed to be non-GM. Also, field trials will be carried out to validate methods for reducing long distance flow of pollen, including the use of male-sterile maize and cleistogamic, self-pollinating variants of winter canola. Outdoor ring tests are planned in France, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and the UK. The research “will help fill gaps in our knowledge about the flow of pollen over long distances or diverse, fragmented landscapes,” says Jochen Schiemann, a researcher at the Biologischen Bundesanstalt für Land- und Forstwirtschaft [Federal Biological Research Center for Agriculture and Forestry] (BBA) in Berlin and Braunschweig (Germany) who coordinates the work.
(Written for: Nature Biotechnology, August 2005)