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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY-BASED TECHNOLOGIES FOR MANAGEMENT OF CROP INSECT PESTS IN LOCAL AND AREA-WIDE PROGRAMS

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Title: Can the technical issues related to risk assessment of transgenic arthropods be solved?

Authors
item Atkinson, P - DEP OF ENT, U. CALIFORNIA
item Handler, Alfred

Submitted to: International Atomic Energy Agency
Publication Type: Research Technical Update
Publication Acceptance Date: October 30, 2006
Publication Date: November 1, 2006
Citation: Atkinson, P.W., Handler, A.M. 2006. Can the technical issues related to risk assessment of transgenic arthropods be solved? International Atomic Energy Agency-TEC-DOC 1483:57-68.

Interpretive Summary: The creation of transgenic strains of economically important insects for the development of more effective biological control programs is a major goal of our laboratory at the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE)(USDA, ARS, Gainesville, FL). Development of this methodology and strategies to effectively and safely utilize transgenic insects for biological control will depend upon a comprehensive analysis of various potential risks. These relate to the stability of the transgenic strain so that it maintains effectiveness over many generations, typically under mass-rearing. Of equal importance is ecological safety in terms of the potential for movement of the transgene from the original host into other species with which it interacts. This article addresses the major areas of concern for these risks in terms of the insect species being manipulated, the gene-trasfer vector system used, and the specific genes and DNA sequences integrated into the trasgenic host insect. Specific scientific protocols area also outlined that may be used for the development of more highly stable transgene vector systems. This information can then be used to develop guidelines for the creation of effective and ecologically safe transgenic insects, as well as methods to test and assess thee attributes.

Technical Abstract: The recent progress that has been made in the development of transgenic technologies for non-drosophilid insects now leads to discussions about both how best to use this technology and the types and magnitudes of risk that are arise from the use of transgenic non-drosophilid insects. We discuss the principal issues of risk and conclude that, for the majority of them, techniques already exist that enable the quantification of risk. For others, such as the possibility of horizontal transfer of transposable elements, assessments of risk can still be made however these are indirect measures. Perhaps what is really remarkable is that a true characterization of any transgenic strain of any insect species with respect to genetic fitness and viability is still yet to be made, even though many of these strains have existed for several years. The need for these type of data is becoming urgent as schemes for the use of transgenic insects start to attract public attention and we suggest that support be made for these types of experiments.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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