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Bird feed and flower seed mixtures: potential for disseminating genetically modified seeds

Research reports | 23.06.2022 | CGM 2022-02

The research is performed by Perseus B.V. and aimed to investigate whether seeds of genetically modified plants could be present in bird feed and seed mixtures for flower patches. The investigators have summarized their report:

  • Bird feed and seeds for flower/ wildlife patches may lead to introduction of GM plants into the environment. This has implications for the environmental risk assessment, authorisation and management of the GM variants.
  • In total the components of over 900 mixtures were inventoried, the number of different species in each mix ranging from 3 to 60. For 50 species present in mixtures, GM variants were identified that had advanced to at least confined field trials.
  • A rationale is presented to identify those species in the seed mixtures with the highest likelihood for GM variants, if present in the seed mixtures, to establish in the Netherlands. While further investigations would be required to evaluate the implications, it provides an indication that these introduction scenarios are realistic.
  • Molecular testing of a set of bird feed and seeds for flower/ wildlife patches revealed a positive signal in at least some feed batches for aviary and companion birds. Although other factors (e.g., presence of cross-reacting microbial strains) cannot be excluded, this result can indicate the presence of GM variants in the mix. Further confirmation is required as well as more detailed molecular analysis to identify specific GM variant(s) present (Please note: COGEM requested the WFSR to perform a follow-up study. The WFSR confirms the findings of this study. See also, COGEM advice CGM/220623-01 [in Dutch]).
  • Suggestions for follow-up actions were proposed.
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