Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Pest Management and Biocontrol Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #354995

Research Project: Ecologically Based Pest Management in Western Crops Such as Cotton

Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol Research

Title: Genetically engineered crops help support conservation biological control

Author
item ROMEIS, JORG - Agroscope
item Naranjo, Steven
item MEISSLE, MICHAEL - Agroscope
item SHELTON, ANTOHNY - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/3/2018
Publication Date: 1/24/2019
Publication URL: https://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/6230154
Citation: Romeis, J., Naranjo, S.E., Meissle, M., Shelton, A.M. 2018. Genetically engineered crops help support conservation biological control. Biological Control. 130:136-154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2018.10.001.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2018.10.001

Interpretive Summary: Transgenic crops (cotton, maize, soybean)producing the insecticidal proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis were planted on over 100 million hectares in 2017 and have been one of the most quickly adopted pest control technologies ever. A key concern of using such crops has been their potential adverse effects on valued non-target species, such as predators and parasitoids that contribute important biological control services. Extensive laboratory and field based research has been conducted to evaluate the potential impacts of Bt crops on multiple species of natural enemies. As a highly effective form of host plant resistance, Bt crops are a foundational tactic in an overall IPM strategy that can provide cascading positive effects and work synergistically with other tactics such as conservation biological control to affect more sustainable pest control. This review presents basic information on the adoption and use of GE crops, discuss the impact of GE crops on natural enemies through the lens of risk assessment and provide evidence on how GE crops can and have enabled biological control to become a more effective component of IPM.

Technical Abstract: Genetically engineered (GE) crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner (mainly Cry proteins) have become a major control tactic for a number of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera pests, mainly in maize, cotton, and soybean. A key concern of using GE crops has been their potential adverse effects on valued non-target species, such as predators and parasitoids that contribute to biological control. Such potential risks are addressed prior to the commercial release of any new GE plant. Over the past 20+ years, extensive experience and insight has been gained through laboratory and field based study of the non-target effects of crops producing Cry proteins. Overall, there is conclusive evidence that the insecticidal proteins deployed today cause no unintended adverse effects on natural enemies. This, together with the fact that the use of Bt crops typically replaces chemical insecticides for target pest control, has resulted in the conservation of natural enemies in major field crops and made them a powerful tool in integrated pest management programs.