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Crop Ferality and Volunteerism

2005 Edition, April 12, 2005

Complete Document

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Active, Most Current

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ISBN: 978-0-8493-2895-4
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2005 Edition, April 12, 2005
  • Published Date: April 12, 2005
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 445
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


This book evolved from the workshop on "Crop Ferality and Volunteerism: a Threat to Food Security in the Transgenic Era?" sponsored by the OECD Cooperative Research Program. The workshop was hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy on May 24–28, 2004, with the cosupport of the Rockefeller Foundation as part of their Food Security Program, and with subsidiary support by BASF, Kumiai, and Monsanto, to whom all the participants are grateful.

The OECD cooperative research program for "Biological Resource Management" has existed since 1979. It focuses on work in four specific areas, one of which, "New Agricultural Products for Sustainable Farming and Industry," is supporting this workshop. This includes new approaches and possibilities for production of valuable materials and substances within agricultural systems, which could have large-scale effects at the farm level and for farming communities as a whole. The activities promoted by this program are postdoctoral fellowships (announced annually) and the organization of expert workshops, such as this.

The workshop on "Crop Ferality and Volunteerism" in relation to the increasing territory of commercial cultivation of transgenic plants was motivated by the growing concerns in the public on environmental issues. Transgenic plants were grown on more than 60 million ha all over the world last year and are expected to further increase in the future. Volunteerism is a well-known phenomenon in the daily practice of agriculture, and ferality is usually neglected. Only plant breeders are well aware of ferality due to their experience based on their long-term selection efforts. When plant breeders leave breeding lines on the same plot without any intervention for years, they will not be recognized due to evolution of ferality. The phenomena of volunteerism and ferality have to be considered in the transgenic era especially in relation to gene flow. As no one is directly performing research related to ferality per se, the major concern was to convene those world experts who are most actively working in related fields in the expectation that on the basis of their recent findings, we will be able to find out whether transgenics are different in this context from normally cultivated crops. Any knowledge about possible impacts on the natural or agroecosystems will be of use to the decision makers and legislators responsible for plant releases.

It was clear at the outset that the syntheses and information from a workshop such as this must not just remain in the memory of the 23 participants, as this information is otherwise unavailable in a concentrated form to the scientific community. Thus, it was decided to collate the information in a book, despite the drawbacks of multiauthored volumes. The chapters in this book were peerreviewed prior to the workshop. The questions and answers in the long discussions following every presentation were recorded. Each author was given the prerogative of either including the issues and answers from the discussions directly as part of the revised text or including them at the end of the chapter in a separate section. Two chapters (11 and 18) could not be subjected to this second round of intensive peer review due to the last minute inability of the authors to get to Bellagio.

During the discussions it became apparent that there were other cases of ferality, or where ferality may become an issue, and sections for a special chapter (Chapter 15) were added by participants or were commissioned after the workshop. This helps round out the demonstration of the vast array of tricks plants have used to evolve ferality and the problems in trying to generalize. The participants hope that they have conveyed to the readers the excitement and stimulation that they felt while discussing this hitherto hardly portrayed problem, which in a few cases, could be exacerbated by the introduction of some transgenic crops in some areas.