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Seed purity in maize as one of the keys to define appropriate threshold limits for a peaceful coexistence

Applicant Stamp Peter
Number 115613
Funding scheme NRP 59 Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants
Research institution Departement Umweltsystemwissenschaften ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Botany
Start/End 01.07.2007 - 31.12.2010
Approved amount 377'587.00
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Keywords (5)

pollen dispersal ; pollen containment; seed impurities ; abiotic stress; soil conversation

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Blue maize simulates the behaviour of genetically engineered maizeConventional seed may be contaminated with grain from transgenic crops. This contamination becomes evident at harvest time. Coloured grain will be used to ascertain the extent to which contamination occurs.BackgroundIf transgenic crops are cultivated in the open next to conventional crops, or processed and distributed using the same channels, the seed from the two types may intermingle. Seed contamination of this type can present a particular problem in Switzerland, where farming takes place in a confined area. If contaminated seed is sown, the harvest comprises a mixture of transgenic and conventional grain. Special statistical methods must be used to estimate the impact of seed contamination on the composition of the harvest.ObjectivesThe project will observe coloured grain in conventional maize seed from sowing until the plants are harvested. The information gathered will be used to assess how contaminated seed manifests itself in the harvest.MethodsOnly conventional maize varieties will be used in the trials. The grain of a specific variety of blue maize will be used to simulate the behaviour of transgenic maize. The project is based on the principle that the coloured grain added to the seed will emerge to a certain extent in the cobs of the harvested plants. In order to test the method under real conditions, seed from 40 Swiss maize producers will be mixed with 1 percent blue grain. The maize plants with coloured grain will be evaluated at harvest.SignificanceThe data on seed contamination will be used to create the first European statistical model for evaluating transgenic product contamination. This should also provide a firm basis for establishing threshold values that will be needed if transgenic plants are to be cultivated in Switzerland.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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