We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Researchers have suggested a new way of genetically modifying crops that they say could reduce a key concern about their safety.

In most genetically modified crops created so far, researchers have inserted not only genes for traits such as insect resistance, but also a bacterial gene for antibiotic resistance. This allows them to confirm in laboratory tests that the inserted genes are present in the crop.

But this practice has raised concerns that the genes for antibiotic resistance, which come from bacteria, could find their way back into disease-causing bacteria, making them antibiotic resistant too. In the case of an infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, this could render conventional treatment with antibiotics ineffective.

Research published in Nature Biotechnology last week, however, shows that a plant gene can be used to confer antibiotic resistance instead, limiting the chances of antibiotic resistance spreading to wild bacteria.

The researchers say that how the plant gene does this is not yet clear, but preliminary tests have shown that inserting the plant antibiotic resistance gene into the bacterium E. coli does not make the bacterium resistant to the antibiotic.

Link to full BBC Online news story

Link to full news @ news story