Escape of GMO canola!

Would you eat genetically modified invaders?

A recent article from the University of Arkansas demonstrates that genetically modified (GMO) varieties of Canola make up 80% of the escaped feral canola plants identified along roadsides in North Dakota.  The paper by Meredith Schafer and colleagues came out last week in the highly ranked free journal PLoS ONE.   Brassica napus, the plant of the mustard family from which we get Canola oil (and a very close relative of our previously highlighted Field Mustard) is planted on over 30 million hectares worldwide (that’s 115,000 square miles, or about 60 Texases).  Over 90% of the canola crop planted on farms across the United States are genetically modified for pesticide resistance.  And now, so are the “natural” populations.

There’s been a heated discussion over the use of GMO is the nation’s and world’s food supply.  There’s an ongoing campaign for the FDA to require labels on food that contain GMO products (start here and watch the clever video).  Our fellow invasivores at Food and Water Watch  just reported that, yeah, pretty much everything we eat has GMO products, and we don’t know it.   The debate about using GMOs is well-covered elsewhere, and we will stay out of it for now.  But one question about GMOs seems particularly relevant to invasivores…

Do invasivores eat GMOs?

Without GMOs, edible invasive species are pretty much defacto organic.  (Though we always warn about being careful where you harvest certain species (like phragmities) to avoid some harmful contaminants!)  Where do GMOs fit in?  Escaped GMOs are potential invasivore targets, but some people may think twice.  It occurs to us that the population of people who would eat invasive species likely overlaps with those who avoid GMOs.  Where do you stand?

One thought on “Escape of GMO canola!

  • October 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I don’t discriminate. I am an eater of all tasty invasive species no matter the Kingdom! I’m a big supporter of the potential benefits of GMO foods when raised responsibly. But can GMO foods like those harboring pesticide resistance be responsibly controlled? Does the extra effort involved in tightly regulating GMO foods negate the cost-savings conferred by introducing pesticide resistance? Hmmm…

    And I think it would be very difficult to be confident that any food harvested in the United States is completely GMO free, without rigorously testing it. Even then, it might be one of those things where you can never be completely sure.


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