GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
  Mar 27, 2017 | 4:54 am
Site Search

Searches all of GMO-Compass in an instant

Stakeholder input wanted: survey on research needs for assessing GMO impacts 

Shaping the Future of GMO Research

Stakeholder with interests in the risk and/or benefit assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are invited to take part in an online survey.

The aim of this survey is to identify which research needs should be prioritised, thereby contributing to the commissioning of research on the health, environment and economic impacts of GMOs.

The survey will close on 15th July 2015.

More information and access to the online survey

The setting-up of this website was financially supported by the European Union within the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme from 1 January 2005 until 28 February 2007.

The European Commission and other EU agencies are not responsible for the content.
See what’s what.
The GMO Food Database
The GMO Food Database.
You want to know for which food products or plants gene technology plays a role?

Then enter here the name of a plant, foodstuff, ingredient or additive:

Database search
All database entries in overview:
Ingredients and additives
Additives according to E numbers

Please note that the GMO Compass Database currently is being expanded and updated. Please check back for new entries.

Sign up to receive regular updates on GM food quality and safety.
To change or cancel your subscription, please enter your email above.
Comments, suggestions or questions?
Please contact us at
Change font size
1 2 3

Environmental Safety

Out-crossing and Gene Flow

Interbreeding between cultivated plants and their wild relatives is constantly taking place. The fact that transgenic plants are no exception to this has aroused suspicion among critics. The questions of if and when this could happen have been a focus of environmental safety research for quite some time. Lately, the essential questions are being revised. The more pressing, practical concern is: does the passing on of the new gene pose a real threat?

Out-crossing does not necessarily mean environmental damage. Whether or not the environment is at risk is a question being addressed by researchers. For example, does a new gene confer some kind of fitness advantage? If so, the possibility that the new gene could enable a plant to get an unfair advantage in nature needs to be thoroughly investigated. In other scenarios, a gene from a GM plant could make its way into nature, possibly putting that plant at a disadvantage.

Rapeseed: Out-crossing is possible, but what would the consequences be?

Based on these concerns, environmental safety research addresses:

  • If the new gene could be passed on to other plants, and if so:

  • If the trait associated with the new gene could have ecological consequences.

  • If there are adequate safeguards against gene flow between the GMOs and native organisms when transgenes could affect fitness, decrease genetic diversity, or increase toxicity.

Management strategies could include avoiding the planting of transgenic crops in their centres of biodiversity. Genetic engineering can be used to alter flowering periods to prevent cross-pollination, to ensure that the transgenes are not incorporated in pollen, and to induce sterility.

When can out-crossing take place?

Out-crossing oftransgenes is possible when compatible hybridisation partners are found nearby. The most common way of out-crossing is the dispersal of pollen to sexually compatible plants. This can occur by:

  • The transfer from crop genes to wild relatives (e.g., rapeseed to turnip rape)
  • The exchange of genes between or among crops (e.g., sugar beet to garden or fodder beet, or maize to maize)

Organisms of the same species can interbreed with each other. Although breeding compatibility is a definition of a species, these boundaries are not absolutely strict. This is made obvious by the multitude of hybrids that exist between different species (interspecific hybrids). In plant breeding and in agriculture, the ability of plants to breed between and among species allows for the movement of genes among crops and between crops and wild relatives.

In certain cases, crops may interact with related wild plants forming crop-weed complexes (sugar beet and sea beet). These weed populations can act as reservoirs of foreign genes, potentially including genes introduced by genetic engineering. These weed populations can also act as bridges, allowing gene flow between crops and wild species that are usually unable to interbreed.


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

Environmental Safety: Crop Specific Information
Sugar beet
December 12, 2006 [nach oben springen]

© 2017 by GMO Compass. All rights reserved. | Imprint | website created by webmotive