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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 #379298

Research Project: Sustainable Pest Management for Arid-Land Agroecosystems

Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol Research

Title: Effects of GE crops on non-target organisms

Author
item Naranjo, Steven

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2020
Publication Date: 11/16/2020
Citation: Naranjo, S.E. 2020. Effects of GE crops on non-target organisms. pp. 127-145 in Plant Biotechnology - Experience and Future Prospects, 2nd Ed., A. Ricroch, S. Chopra, M. Kuntz (eds.), Springer, Dordrecht-Heidelberg-London-New York. (in press). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-06892-3_11.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-06892-3_11

Interpretive Summary: Genetically engineered (GE) crops have now been part of the agricultural landscape for 24 years and are important tools in crop production and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in 26 countries. Considerable research has addressed many associated issues including environmental and food safety, as well as economic and social impacts. Non-target effects have been a particularly intensive area of study, and extensive laboratory and field research has been conducted for transgenic Bt crops that produce the insecticidal proteins of a ubiquitous bacterium, Bacillus thuringeinsis. This body of evidence and the quantitative and qualitative syntheses of the data through meta-analysis and other compilations generally indicate a lack of direct impacts of Bt crops on non-target macro-invertebrates. The data also clearly show that Bt crops are much safer to non-target organisms than the alternative use of traditional insecticides for control of the pests targeted by the Bt proteins. Some indirect effects on arthropod natural enemies associated with reduced abundance or quality of Bt target herbivores have been shown, but the ramifications of these effects remain unclear and would be shared by other pest control technologies. As one tactic in the IPM toolbox, Bt crops have contributed to large reductions in insecticide use. While reduced insecticide use and reduced herbivory may be involved in precipitating new pest problems in Bt crops, it also has broadened opportunities for deployment of another key IPM tactic, biological control.

Technical Abstract: Genetically engineered (GE) crops have now been part of the agricultural landscape for 24 years and are important tools in crop production and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in 26 countries. Considerable research has addressed many associated issues including environmental and food safety, as well as economic and social impacts. Non-target effects have been a particularly intensive area of study, and extensive laboratory and field research has been conducted for transgenic Bt crops that produce the insecticidal proteins of a ubiquitous bacterium, Bacillus thuringeinsis. This body of evidence and the quantitative and qualitative syntheses of the data through meta-analysis and other compilations generally indicate a lack of direct impacts of Bt crops on non-target macro-invertebrates. The data also clearly show that Bt crops are much safer to non-target organisms than the alternative use of traditional insecticides for control of the pests targeted by the Bt proteins. Some indirect effects on arthropod natural enemies associated with reduced abundance or quality of Bt target herbivores have been shown, but the ramifications of these effects remain unclear and would be shared by other pest control technologies. As one tactic in the IPM toolbox, Bt crops have contributed to large reductions in insecticide use. While reduced insecticide use and reduced herbivory may be involved in precipitating new pest problems in Bt crops, it also has broadened opportunities for deployment of another key IPM tactic, biological control.