The study also challenges the public perception that genetically modified crops carrying extra copies of their own genes are safer than those containing genes from microorganisms. “Our study shows that this is not necessarily the case,” says Lu.
The finding calls for a rethinking of future regulation of genetically modified crops, some researchers say. “Some people are now saying that biosafety regulation can be relaxed because we have a high level of comfort with two decades of genetic engineering,” says Ellstrand. “But the study shows that novel products still need careful evaluation.”