Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/16/2005
Publication Date: 11/29/2005
Citation: Allen, M.L. 2005. Transgenic insects in the environment. Meeting Abstract.
Technical Abstract: Insects and other arthropods are among the most diverse and abundant life forms on the planet. Many insects are beneficial to humankind, by maintaining ecosystems, pollinating flowers that provide edible fruits, and producing industrial products such as silk and honey. Other insects are extremely damaging to humans by transmitting disease and destroying food and fiber necessary for human survival. However, the majority of insects neither harms nor helps humanity directly; they merely coexist. When predicting environmental risk of a transgenic arthropod, the nature of the insect itself and the context of release are most critical. Historically, insects have been released intentionally for pollination, for controlling pest populations, either weeds or other insects, or for limiting their own populations after sterilization. This last strategy is called sterile insect technique (SIT) or sterile insect release method (SIRM). These insect releases have been highly beneficial when successful. Unsuccessful insect releases, for the most part, have caused no harm whatsoever. Damaging, invasive insect pest problems have primarily been a result of accidental introduction facilitated by commerce. If proper insect containment is observed (which should be based on the inherent probability of damage caused by the insect in question) the likelihood of transgenic insects persisting in and damaging the environment is much lower than other organisms.