Assessment of environmental impact of vitamin A-enhanced soybeans and hybrid soybeans
Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Rural Development Administration, Jeonju 54874, Korea
An understanding of safety problems pursuant to environmental release of GM (Genetically Modified) crops is considered important. Among the recognized safety problems, the possibilities of weediness and ecosystem invasion are constantly being validated. We herein compared the growth characteristics and germination rate of soybeans formed by hybridization with vitamin A-enhanced soybeans carrying an introduced gene that increases β-carotene content. We also examined overwintering, survival, and weed competitiveness to evaluate hybrid ecological impact on long-term unmanaged cultivatable land. These studies revealed that the hybrid soybeans exhibited intermediate growth characteristics and germination rate compared with the vitamin A-enhanced soybeans and wild soybeans, or exhibited traits similar to those of the maternal strain. Overwintering experiments were conducted by planting seeds at depths of 0, 5, 10, and 20 cm and recovering them after three or five months. After five months, all seeds at depths more than 5 cm lost viability. Among seeds recovered after three months, only wild soybeans retained viability at depths of more than 5 cm. Survival and weed competitiveness were assessed by sowing each type of seed and performing no irrigation, or pest or weed control. Quantitative assessment of numbers of individual soybean plants that appeared in the experimental plot revealed that all plants germinated after sowing, but only wild type plants survived overwintering. These studies suggest that both GM soybeans and hybrid soybeans cannot survive in uncultivated land even if they are released into the environment, which indicates less possibility of ecosystem invasion and weediness.
ecosystem invasion, GM (genetically modified) soybean, hybrid soybean, weediness