Response to comments by DiGiovanni and Kevan on “Session V: Estimating Likelihood and Exposure”, by Zaida Lentini, Environ. Biosafety Res. 5 (2006) 193–195
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DiGiovanni and Kevan (2008, Environ. Biosafety Res. 7: 105–108) commented extensively on the empirical approach that I and my co-authors took in our previous modeling of pollen-mediated gene flow in maize (Gustafson et al. (2006) Crop Sci. 46: 2133–2140). As we detailed in that original paper, gene flow is a highly complex process that necessarily requires at least some level of empiricism in order to adequately quantify all of the biological, meteorological, and physical phenomena that are involved. DiGiovanni and Kevan favor a mechanistic modeling approach, and they proposed a number of potential advantages for such a method over our entirely empirical technique. However, the 20 m buffers we had proposed based on our empirical model continue to be supported by the rapidly growing body of experimental data on maize gene flow that has now been collected in Europe and elsewhere around the world. This does not mean there is no place for mechanistic modeling of gene flow, but it does suggest that properly implemented empirical approaches have a valid role to play. They offer a degree of simplicity and practical utility that is not available from more complicated approaches.
Key words: maize / transgenic / gene flow / models / European Union
© ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2008