The objective of the research is to investigate non-target effects of transgene-induced virus resistance. The aim is to investigate the effect of transgenes conferring resistance to specific target viruses, on the response of the crop to infection by viruses not targeted by the genetic modification. Responses will be measured in terms of level and stability of transgene expression, plant characteristics, plant development, increase or decrease in disease susceptibility and, development and expression of disease symptoms. The plant and virus characters given prominence in the assessment will be those important for risk assessment. Non-target effects of these kinds are currently given minimal consideration in the UK regulatory assessment process. The project will develop guiding principles to aid Regulators, and those developing transgenic plants, in deciding what non-target interactions should be assessed in proposals to commercialise virus resistant transgenic plant varieties.
The regulatory process now gives greater prominence to estimating indirect and non-target effects of transgenes and their potential impact on agriculture and the agricultural environment. The research is important to MAFF because it will provide underpinning science to make the statutory risk and impact assessment more scientifically informed.
Where appropriate, and with the approval of MAFF scientists, the results will be communicated to Government regulatory bodies (ACRE, ACNFP and AEBC). The results will be communicated to the wider community by publication in refereed scientific journals, at scientific conferences and workshops, and in general talks to the public.