QWill cross-pollination effect other non-GMO crops? And if there are two fields next to each other, one GMO and one non-GMO; what is the likelihood of them cross-pollinating?

Will cross-pollination effect other non-GMO crops? And if there are two fields next to each other, one GMO and one non-GMO; what is the likelihood of them cross-pollinating?

AExpert Answer

It's a long journey between GM and non-GM plants coexisting and the potential cross-pollination you're concerned about:


  • First, a plant can only pollinate another closely related plant. So, for example, corn can pollinate corn, but not soybeans.
  • Also, pollen movement varies by crop. Corn and soybeans are the most widely planted GM crops in the United States, so we’ll focus there. Soybeans are nearly 100 percent self-pollinating, meaning there is little risk of cross-pollination or pollen flow from a field of GM soybeans to non-GM soybeans.
  • Corn pollination occurs during a short, approximately one-week period, and that period would have to overlap between two fields for there to be any potential for cross-pollination.
  • In addition, corn pollen is relatively large and heavy compared with the pollen of other crops, which limits its movement.
  • Local environmental factors, such as natural wind blocks, also may impact pollen movement.
  • And, finally, after corn pollen is shed from the tassel, the viability of that pollen declines rapidly.


Since our business began in 1926―decades before the development of GM technology―we've been studying and documenting pollen movement and flow so that we could successfully develop new corn hybrids, maintain the purity of parent seed and research plots and produce seed crops each year.


Thanks to this work, a long history of published science, firsthand farmer experience and more, there is a great deal of understanding about where, how and at what rate pollen flow occurs. That knowledge translates into best management practices, such as planting at recommended separation distances or timing the planting so that pollination of the two fields occurs at different times. 


For more information about cross-pollination, there are a number of university and extension publications that provide recommendations to farmers, including materials from Ohio State University and University of California, Davis.

Posted on August 15, 2017
  On average, the recent research that has been conducted on GMOs, on a per product basis is calculated to be an average of $130 Million (and 13 years). This is a per product average, so each product that reaches commercialization in a given year would also cost something similar to this value.   Please see below for additional helpful resources: The Cost and time involved in the discovery, development and authorization of a new plant biotechnology derived trait by Phillips... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
These are definitely questions that many people are asking and researching to come up with answers.  In a day and age when a person can go to their smart phone to find a restaurant or search for directions, our society is definitely accustomed to finding answers quickly.   Unfortunately, complex issues take more time for the scientific community to research and develop answers. History is full of examples such as genetics, which started with the work of Gregor Mendel in 1856 and... Read More
Posted on May 6, 2017
A gene with a desirable trait can be moved from one organism to another organism as a means to change it. The traditional way is through selective breeding, which is slow, time consuming, inefficient, and transfers more than one gene, so other unexpected and unwanted traits can cause problems. But genes also can be moved in a laboratory, resulting in what has been called a genetically modified (“transgenic”) organism (GMO). GM technology moves only one gene, eliminating other,... Read More