Many plants leak chemical compounds into the
soil through their roots. There are concerns that
transgenic plants may leak different compounds
than conventional plants do, as an unintended
consequence of their changed DNA. Speculation
that this may be happening leads to concern about
whether the communities of micro-organisms living
near transgenic plants may be affected. The interaction
between plants and soil micro-organisms is very
complex, with the micro-organisms that live around
plant roots also leaking chemical compounds into
the soil. Much more research must be done before
we understand the relationships that occur between
micro-organisms and conventional crops. Attempts
to discover whether transgenic plants are changing
the soil environment, and whether they are changing
it in good ways or bad ways, are hindered by our
lack of basic scientific knowledge.
A few studies have attempted to describe conditions
in soils where transgenic crops are grown. A Canadian
and Germida, 2001), tested the soils around
four transgenic and four conventional canola varieties.
Some differences were associated with whether
the crop being grown was transgenic or conventional.
Other soil characteristics were similar regardless
of the crop type, and some differences were not
associated with the crop type. An analysis of
fatty acids that are associated with certain kinds
of soil micro-organisms indicated that transgenic
plant roots might harbor higher levels of certain
micro-organisms, but further research is essential
to determine whether this is true.
Image: Rural Life Center, Kenyon