Genetically engineered oilseed rape in the European Union
In Germany (as well as in many other European countries), field trials with genetically engineered oilseed rape were conducted from the 1990s onwards. Many trials were multi-year and large scale.
As yet, no systematic attempt has been made to determine the consequences of these field trials regarding possible persistence of transgenic oilseed rape in the environment. However, feral genetically engineered oilseed rape has been found in North Rhine-Westphalia at a distance of 700 meters from a former trial field.
In Sweden, transgenic oilseed rape was even found ten years after experimental field trials (D’Hertefeldt et al., 2008). According to the EU Commission, contaminations with Bayer transgenic oilseed rape are found regularly. In 2007, genetically engineered oilseed rape Ms1xRf1, Ms1xRf2 and Topas lost market authorisation. These plants were authorised for seed production but never grown on a large scale in the EU. Nevertheless, the EU Commission had to establish a specific regulation for the removal of the plants from the environment. Contaminations were allowed with the oilseed rape provided it did not exceed 0,9% for a period of five years. This period had to be prolonged in 2012 for another five years because minor contaminations were still being reported. This example shows that even in cases with low-level contaminations a long period of time is needed to minimise the uncontrolled dispersal of genetically engineered oilseed rape in relevant products.