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Genetic Engineering Concludes Library Series

Plant Scientist Discusses Plant Genetics Issues At Library Event

Effects of engineered plants contaminating wild gene pools are among issues
addressed in Norman Ellstrand’s book, “Dangerous Liaisons?”

(May 17, 2005)

“Dangerous Liaisons? When Cultivated Plants Mate With Their Wild Relatives” by UC Riverside's Norman Ellstrand is published by Johns Hopkins University Press.<br />

“Dangerous Liaisons? When Cultivated Plants Mate With Their Wild Relatives” by UC Riverside's Norman Ellstrand is published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — Norman Ellstrand, professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and director of the Biotechnology Impacts Center at the University of California, Riverside, will discuss the issues raised in his book “Dangerous Liaisons?: When Cultivated Plants Mate with their Wild Relatives,” from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 18. The event will take place in Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Tomás Rivera Library at UCR, 900 University Ave. and will be web cast live. For more information call Special Collections at the UCR Libraries at (951) 827—3233.

Johns Hopkins University Press published “Dangerous Liaisons?” in October 2003. It is especially relevant because of the controversy stirred up in recent years by the field release of transgenic plants. Pollens, or gene flow, can transfer genetic changes into wild plant populations, with unintended negative consequences. This is the first book to focus on the issue, Ellstrand said.

“Although such plant liaisons have been going on for thousands of years, the issue has gained significance with the invention of genetically engineered plants,” Ellstrand said. The topic, once of interest only to a small band of plant evolutionists such as Ellstrand, now attracts the attention of activists, policy makers, and players in the world of biotechnology.

The book describes the consequences of these liaisons, for example, the evolution of new hybrid weeds, the increased risk of extinction if the wild plants are already rare and the potential for contaminating important natural plant varieties. “Dangerous Liaisons?” concludes with recommendations on how to best manage and monitor engineered genes when they inevitably escape into wild populations.

Ellstand’s presentation is the last in the seven-part UCR Libraries’ Author Series for 2004-2005. The series, which began in September 2002, brings the riches of the campus libraries and the talent of UCR faculty and staff to the community. The authors are all affiliated in some way with UC Riverside. All UCR Libraries’ Author Series events are free and open to the public.

Parking on campus is $6 per vehicle for the day or may be purchased for shorter periods at $2 per hour. Parking permits are available at the information kiosks near the University Avenue and the Canyon Crest Drive/ Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard entrances.

The UC Riverside Libraries are the focal points for research and study on campus. Their collections include 2,081,146 volumes, 12,444 serial subscriptions and 1,672,042 microforms housed in four facilities: the Tomás Rivera Library (serving the humanities, arts and social sciences), the Science Library, the Music Library, and the Media Library. Special Collections houses rare books and manuscripts, and unique archival resources.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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