Genetically Modified Crops

3. Does conventional plant breeding have effects on health and the environment?

    In conventional plant breeding, little attention has been paid to the possible impacts of new plant varieties on food safety or the environment. Conventional plant breeding and artificial selection can create gene combinations that would rarely survive in nature. In a few cases, such gene combinations have caused negative effects on human health. For example, a cultivated variety of potato was found to contain excessive levels of naturally occurring toxins.

    The potential impacts of conventionally bred crops on the environment or on farmers' traditional varieties have generally not been subjected to regulatory controls. Some of the concerns of gene transfer between domesticated and wild plants that have arisen because of the introduction of genetically modified plants also apply to conventional crops.

    Highly domesticated plants are grown all over the world and migration outside cultivated areas has only rarely led to serious problems. Some exchange of genetic material (gene flow) between cultivated plants and their wild relatives has been reported but in general this has not been considered a problem. More...

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