Science has found a kill switch for genetically modified plants

A wheat field near Parkes in New South Wales. Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Scientists have designed a kill switch in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which can target specific DNA sequences for destruction without disrupting the growth of the plant.

The system can be used to prevent the unintended release of GMOs, along with also helping to protect the intellectual property of biotechnology companies from theft.

Concerns over the potential release of genetically modified micro-organisms has prompted the development of various methods to induce cell death.

The new system, designed to target specific DNA sequences for destruction, is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

Brian Caliando and Christopher Voigtof Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the system efficiently destroys the DNA sequence while imposing no appreciable burden on host growth or metabolism.

The kill switch can be activated at specific times or under specific conditions.

Two farmer neighbours in Western Australia are locked in a legal battle, one claiming that genetically modified seed blew on to his fields ruining his organically grow status.

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