Northern & Central Midwest

November, 2001
Regional Report

Local Buzz

Tracking Transgenic Pollen
Plant geneticist Daniel Skinner has determined from a three year bio risk assessment study that bees can carry pollen at least two-thirds of a mile. This study was done to assess the risks of transgenic pollen being transported to other populations. They used alfalfa for the study, tracking pollen from alfalfa that carries a rare but naturally occurring molecular marker. The results give scientists some idea of the risks of pollen from transgenic alfalfa, scheduled for release to commercial growers in 2004, being transported to wild stands of alfalfa.



The researchers are recommending that transgenic alfalfa producers consider changing their seed-production practices by placing bee colonies in the center of the alfalfa field instead of along the side. They suggest surrounding the field with flowering crops like birdsfoot trefoil or sainfoin so that bees would become covered with other pollen and be less likely to transmit alfalfa pollen if they leave the field. These practices are expected to limit pollen dispersal, but Skinner cautions that more testing will have to be done. Reported in the October issue of Agricultural Research Magazine.

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Agriculture Research Magazine
Agriculture Research Magazine is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's science magazine, published monthly by the Agricultural Research Service. The magazine reports all types of research being done in the U.S. and abroad, with respect to agriculture, horticulture and the plant industry.

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