Scientists gear up to take GM maize into the field

26 January 2007 | Story by Megan Morris

Picture courtesy of Dr Rikus Kloppers, PANNAR (Pty) Ltd.

A crop of genetically modified maize plants developed by a team of UCT scientists could well see field trials before the end of 2007. According to an article in the January edition of Science, the plants, designed by the Dept of Molecular and Cell Biology's Prof Jennifer Thomson, Prof Ed Rybicki, Dr Dionne Shepherd and collaborators, stood its ground against the crop-killing maize streak virus in trials conducted in a KwaZulu-Natal greenhouse. It's hoped that GM maize could relieve grain shortages in the Southern African region in the near future. Also at stake, though, is the reputation of the technology in Africa, dented by failures of other GM crops. If the UCT plant does make it to field trials, it would be the first designed in a developing nation to do so.

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