Scientific Steering Committee
Are residue levels of plant protection product higher in plants genetically modified to withstand certain herbicides than in corresponding conventionally grown plants? The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) will look into this in a new project.
The VKM will also consider whether genetic modifications can cause degradation of plant protection products into substances that do not form in conventionally grown plants, and whether these substances can be harmful.
No genetically modified plants are grown in Norway. Globally they are grown in large quantities. The VKM regularly receive applications for import authorization of various genetically modified plants for use in food and / or feed. For several years, the VKM has pointed out that there is a lack of knowledge about residues of herbicides in plants genetically modified to withstand them.
Most herbicide tolerant genetically modified plants have been made tolerant for one or more non-specific broad-spectrum herbicides. In conventional farming, such herbicides can only be used before or immediately after the sown plants germinate, and after the crop is harvested, to avoid killing the cultivated plants as well as the weeds.
Plants tolerant to herbicides can be sprayed repeatedly during the growing season, also on those parts of the plant that are harvested for use as food and feed. Potentially, residual levels of herbicides and degradants may therefore be higher in genetically modified plants than in conventionally grown plants.
The first part of the project will describe different practices for the use of plant protection products in cultivation of herbicide-tolerant genetically modified plants, and in the cultivation of corresponding conventional plants.
In the second part, the VKM will map and compare residue levels of plant protection products in herbicide tolerant genetically modified plants, and residual levels in corresponding conventionally cultivated plants. The VKM will also consider possible changes in degradation of plant protection products due to the genetic modification, and the significance of any new degradation substances.
The project focuses on soya, rapeseed and corn, which are the most widely used herbicide tolerant genetically modified plants globally.
The project is self-initiated by the VKM. The Scientific Steering Committee is responsible for the project, which will be published in June 2018.