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Title: Alfalfa transgene dispersal and adventitious presence: understanding grower perception of risk

item KESOJU, SANDYA - Washington State University
item Greene, Stephanie

Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/23/2015
Publication Date: 10/13/2015
Citation: Kesoju, S., Greene, S.L. 2015. Alfalfa transgene dispersal and adventitious presence: understanding grower perception of risk. Symposium Proceedings. 25th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference,Hyderabad, India, Oct. 13-16, 2015.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Recognizing the importance of coexistence, the alfalfa industry has developed a set of Best Management Practices (BMP) to maintain separation of GE and conventional production. But the success of BMP depends upon the degree that growers comply. Therefore we surveyed 530 alfalfa hay and seed producers in California, Idaho and Washington to assess compliance and gain a better understanding of how growers perceive the risks of transgene dispersal. Specifically our 42 question survey assessed the extent of GE and non GE use, compliance to industry BMP, production practices that have the potential to impact transgene dispersal and grower perception of transgene escape. We had an average survey return rate of 33%. Of interest we found that although AP in conventional alfalfa hay may be due to the presence of AP in planted seed, only 4% of respondents tested alfalfa seed for AP before planting. When asked how likely seed was to escape when moving equipment, 86% of respondents indicated escape was not likely or impossible. Most of the respondents indicated they controlled feral plants, but mainly on their own property. Some respondents used glyphosate to control volunteers. In areas where AP sensitive seed was produced, GR hay may contribute to AP, since 55% of hay growers cut after mid-bud bloom, and most respondents indicated cutting was routinely delayed due to weather or other events. Our grower survey suggested that efforts are warranted to broadly educate growers about transgene flow and the best management practices needed to reduce risk.