If we grow GM crops will they cross breed with other plants?

Yes. GM crops may cross breed with closely related plants. This includes non–GM varieties of the same crop and wild relatives of the crop. For GM crops approved by regulators the consequences of cross breeding have been assessed and judged not to be a risk to health or the environment. 

Both non-GM crops and GM crops can cross breed with closely related plants. Cross breeding between crops and their wild relatives could cause problems if this results in the wild relative acquiring characteristics that might make it more weedy and invasive. For example, herbicide resistant weeds could be produced if a herbicide tolerant crop, GM or non-GM, were to breed with weedy relatives. Their offspring might be resistant to the herbicide if they inherit the tolerance gene from the crop. Other herbicides would then have to be used to control these weeds. 

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Page last updated: May 2016

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