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Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2012-05-08 15:56 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-05-08 15:56 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)

General Information
Risks from GMOs Due to Horizontal Gene Transfer
Paul Keese
Author’s contact information
Office of the Gene Technology Regulator
PO Box 100 Woden
ACT 2606

Email: paul.keese@health.gov.au
  • English
Publication date
Summary, abstract or table of contents

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the stable transfer of genetic material from one organism to another without reproduction or human intervention. Transfer occurs by the passage of donor genetic material across cellular boundaries, followed by heritable incorporation to the genome of the recipient organism. In addition to conjugation, transformation and transduction, other diverse mechanisms of DNA and RNA uptake occur in nature. The genome of almost every organism reveals the footprint of many ancient HGT events. Most commonly, HGT involves the transmission of genes on viruses or mobile genetic elements. HGT first became an issue of public concern in the 1970s through the natural spread of antibiotic resistance genes amongst pathogenic bacteria, and more recently with commercial production of genetically modified (GM) crops. However, the frequency of HGT from plants to other eukaryotes or prokaryotes is extremely low. The frequency of HGT to viruses is potentially greater, but is restricted by stringent selection pressures. In most cases the occurrence of HGT from GM crops to other organisms is expected to be lower than background rates. Therefore, HGT from GM plants poses negligible risks to human health or the environment.
Thematic areas
  • Scientific and technical issues
    • Risk assessment
Background material to the “Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms”
Is this document is recommend as background material for the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms”
Section(s) of the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” this background material is relevant
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Article (journal / magazine / newspaper)
DOI: 10.1051/ebr:2008014
Publisher and its location
EDP Science
© ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2008
27 Page PDF
Environmental Biosafety Research
Keywords and any other relevant information
Keywords: horizontal gene transfer; risk assessment; genetically modified plant; lateral gene transfer; antibiotic resistance; risk regulation

Citation: Environ. Biosafety Res. 7 (2008) 123-149