The benefits and environmental risks of genetically modified (GM) spring
wheat with improved powdery mildew resistance were investigated on two
field sites by a consortium of Swiss research groups from 2008 to 2010.
GM wheat lines with specific powdery mildew resistance and general fungal
resistance were compared with control lines, commercial wheat varieties, and
with barley and triticale. The impact on insects and soil organisms (bacteria,
mycorrhizal fungi, soil fauna) as well as outcrossing to wheat were investigated
in addition to powdery mildew resistance. Several GM wheat lines
were significantly more resistant to powdery mildew than their controls.
No relevant impact was found on non-target organisms, their biodiversity
or selected ecosystem services. On the whole, the differences between
GM and control lines were smaller than between commercial wheat varieties
or other cereal crops. Outcrossing events were rare and found only at a
short distance from GM test plants.
Field trials with genetically modified powdery mildew-resistant wheat