The cultivation of GMHT oilseed rape is likely to occur in Ireland in the near future. In response, Teagasc initiated a 3 year project designed to (i) study the potential and consequence of HT trait transfer into wild Brassica populations, (ii) establish an integrated weed management strategy to ensure the efficacy of glyphosate is maintained for the tillage sector and (iii) conduct both temporal and spatial modelling to determine the potential spread of the GM trait into non-GM crops across the landscape.
Stage of Development
Greenhouse and field trials.
Reasons for Block/Delay
The work was due to start in 2003. However, the licensing process and authorisation required to secure a Class B license for 3 years delayed the project for over 12 months. To ensure that there were no further delays, we acquired imidazolinone (IMI) HT oilseed rape from a supplier in Australia. IMI HT oilseed rape
confers an equivalent phenotype to glyphosate tolerant oilseed rape; both are herbicide resistant. Yet, because IMI oilseed rape was generated through EMS mutagenesis as opposed to GM techniques it is exempt from licensing under EC 2001/18. As a result we were able to conduct large-scale field trials over 3 years in Ireland using HT oilseed rape. As expected its trait introgressed into native flora populations and as expected the management of the crop requires particular attention, in order to ensure the control of volunteers.
The frustrating point about this research was that we were unable to grow GM HT oilseed rape but yet there was no restriction to growing IMI HT oilseed rape, which performs in the same manner and spreads its genes through essentially the same mechanisms. It was a classic example of how current EU regulations license the process and not the product and remain oblivious to the fact that you can generate the same crop phenotype from different methods. So while their impact on the environment will be the same, one is heavily legislated for while the other is freely available for cultivation.
Teagasc is a state research agency tasked with addressing questions of public concern. GM is one of those issues but yet the ability to investigate and research is restricted by legislation, which is not cognizant of the principles of biology. The results from this research are publishable and they commenced in 2005. The foregone benefit is that we are yet to study GMHT oilseed rape in Ireland.
Cost of Research
Cost of research was equivalent to what was budgeted for with the GMHT oilseed rape. The greatest cost was that we lost a year.
Reference to Publication
Dr. Ewen Mullins, Teagasc Crops Research Centre, Oak Park, Carlow