Rene C. Van Acker and S. Zahra. H. Cici
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
The characteristics of Prunus species highlight the complexity of maintaining coexistence between genetically modified (GM) and non-GM Prunus in the case of commercial production of GM Prunus species and have implications for proposed low-level presence (LLP) policies. These characteristics include genetic diversity, genetic bridging capacity, inter- and intra-specific genetic compatibility, self sterility (in most species), high frequency of open pollination, insect-assisted pollination, perennial nature, tendency to escape from cultivation, and the existence of ornamental and roadside Prunus species. GM plum is the first Prunus species to be deregulated, yet the current plum production system is not designed to prevent gene flow at the level required to prevent LLP of given GM traits especially when it does not take into account the implication of the opportunity for trait movement across the Prunus species complex. The commercialization of one GM Prunus species may create coexistence and LLP issues for the commercial production of many non-GM Prunus species.
Key words: Prunus, coexistence, low-level presence (LLP), ferality, GM plum, biosafety, metapopulation.