Proving GE Creeping Bentgrass is a Severe Contamination Hazard: Corvallis EPA scientists win prestigious award

SOURCE: Corvallis Gazette-Times, USA
DATE: 09 Jun 2006

Read the Full EPA: Evidence for landscape-level, pollen-mediated gene flow from genetically modified creeping bentgrass with CP4 EPSPS as a marker.Report Here

2005 Level I Scientific And Technological Achievement Awards (STAA)

Exceptional Research That Changed the Paradigm About the Potential for
Gene Flow from GM Crops to Natural Environments

Corvallis EPA scientists win prestigious award

A team of scientists at EPA's Corvallis laboratory has received an EPA
award for first documenting the potential for the genes of genetically-
modified (GM) plants to be widely dispersed in the form of wind-blown pollen.

The team is headed by EPA ecologist Lidia S. Watrud, Ph.D.

Watrud and her EPA colleagues have received one of three first place
(Level I) Scientific and Technological Achievement Awards (STAA), a top
honor recognizing outstanding research.

The EPA team discovered that pollen from a GM turf grass, known as
creeping bentgrass, can travel at least 13 miles. Previously, research
documented gene flow at a maximum distance of only a mile, and more
typically a few thousand feet.

"The bodies of work that we are recognizing with these awards are fine
examples of how cutting-edge science not only advances our understanding
of the environment, but also provides solutions for meeting EPA's
mission to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment,"
said George Gray, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Research
and Development which sponsors the awards.

The STAA awards recognize outstanding scientific and technological
achievements that have been peer-reviewed and published by EPA employees.

The award-winning research is part of the lab's Gene Flow Project, a
study to develop methods for estimating and tracking movement of genes
from crops to wild plants, and then determine what effects bioengineered
genes might have on natural plant communities.

The study has been widely reported internationally in more than 150
newspapers, journals, magazines, and other media, and is recognized in
the scientific community as a "seminal" study of gene flow.

It also provides critical scientific information for developing risk
assessments for genetically-modified organisms, an issue important to the EPA.

The 2005 awards were presented May 18 at an awards ceremony in
Washington, D.C.

Other EPA employees who shared in the honor are Constance A. Burdick,
Jay R. Reichman, E. Henry Lee, and Anne Fairbrother.

The team works at EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects
Research Laboratory, Western Ecology Division in Corvallis. Watrud
served as lead author for the paper, "Evidence for landscape-level,
pollen-mediated gene flow from genetically modified creeping bentgrass
with CP4 EPSPS as a marker," which appeared in the October 4, 2004,
issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

EPA's laboratories, research centers, and grantees are building the
scientific foundation needed to support the Agency's mission to
safeguard human health and the environment.