GMOs Detected in Conventional Canola Seed in Maine

A recent study by researchers at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension found that conventional canola seed lines contain low levels of genetically modified material. The study also found that GM canola does not significantly improve yields or economic returns compared to conventional canola.

The study, “Rape Seed Yield: Risks and Benefits of Genetically Enhanced Lines,” was conducted to provide Maine farmers with information about the risks and benefits of growing GM herbicide tolerant canola. Roundup Ready GM canola is grown on a very small-scale in Maine.

The researchers, John M. Jemison, Jr. and Peter Sexton of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, wanted to evaluate lines of conventional herbicide-tolerant canola for yield and profitability and assess the level of GM material in conventional seed lines to provide organic growers with information on background seed contamination.

The researchers evaluated 14 Roundup Ready, three glufosinate herbicide-resistant, and seven conventional canola varieties. Seed were planted in greenhouse flats and then transplanted to fields.

The researchers found no significant differences in yields or economic returns between the GM and conventional canola.

GMO analysis of six conventional canola seed lines found low amounts of GM material in five lines with GM content ranging from less than 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent.
Professor Jemison told the Bangor Daily News that contamination did not result from drift from GM crops, but that the seed was already contaminated.

Jemisen is visiting Maine potato and canola farmers and presenting his research to them. “I’m telling them that we aren’t seeing any benefits to GE canola,” he said.

(February 2006)