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TRANSCONTAINER - Developing Efficient and Stable Biological Containment Systems for Genetically Modified Plants


The spread of transgenes from genetically modified crops to conventional and organic crops or to wild relatives remains a source of public and scientific concern in Europe. Co-existence of GM and non-GM crops can be promoted by the implementation of biological transgene containment strategies. The TransContainer proposal comprises 15 partners from universities, research and government institutes, SMEs and an industrial partner. The overall goal of the proposal is to lift this major roadblock to fulfilling the promises of agricultural biotechnology in Europe, and thus increase the competitiveness of that sector.

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The project will investigate and develop a number of strategies for biological containment:
<LI> Plastid transformation as a means to prevent transgene spread
<LI>Prevention of flowering as biological containment strategy
<LI> Controlling transgene transmission through pollen and seed. Where necessary, we aim to complement these strategies with tightly controllable switches to restore fertility. The crops to be used are representative for crops grown for their seeds (oilseed rape), for their fruits (tomato and eggplant), or for their vegetative parts (sugar beet, rye grass, red fescue, poplar and birch). For some of these crops, several strategies will be compared.
Besides developing biological containment strategies, the project will also:
<LI> Investigate the impact of the implementation of these strategies on environmental and food safety and possible improvement of co-existence rules
<LI>Assess the agro-economic effects for European agriculture and compare different scenarios for co-existence
<LI>Invoke stakeholder dialogue on socio-economic and environment issues by holding interviews, and workshops for specific groups (industry, regulators) and one for stakeholders and public <P>For more information about this project, please visit the <a href="…; target="_blank">European Commission Food Quality and Safety in Europe</a> or the <a href="; target="_blank">TRANSCONTAINER </a> Web sites.

de Maagd, Ruud
Plant Research International
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