GM Will Be Difficult to Contain, Say Scientists

Current techniques for preventing the unplanned spread of genetically modified organisms are in their infancy and are unlikely to prevent some GM plants and animals from having unforeseen health or environmental effects, said a panel of scientists from the National Research Council on Tuesday. While the most common method of preventing GM organisms from spreading has been the construction of physical barriers, the panel’s report, which was commissioned by the Agriculture Department, emphasized the importance of developing “bioconfinement” methods that would program preventative measures into species’ genetic codes. The panel argued that most GM organisms are harmless, but warned of scenarios ranging from herbicide-resistant corn producing super-weeds to fast-growing salmon escaping to wipe out the remainder of wild Atlantic salmon.