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Environmental Safety of Genetically Engineered Crops

Rebecca Grumet
James F. Hancock
Karim M. Maredia
Cholani Weebadde
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 246
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt7ztbfn
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  • Book Info
    Environmental Safety of Genetically Engineered Crops
    Book Description:

    Since the mid-1990s, when the technology was first introduced, the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops has grown exponentially. In the U.S. alone, adoption rates for transgenic cotton, corn, and soybeans are between 70-90%. Across the globe, 14 million farmers grow GE crops in more than twenty countries. Yet many countries are discussing and debating the use and adoption of GE technology because of concerns about their impact on the environment and human health. Now, in this comprehensive handbook, a team of international experts present the scientific basis for GE crops, placing them in the context of current agricultural systems, and examining the potential environmental risks posed by their deployment. An integrated approach to an increasingly hot and globally debated topic, the book considers the past, present, and future of GE crops, and offers an invaluable perspective for regulation and policy development.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-227-5
    Subjects: General Science, Botany & Plant Sciences, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    M. S. SWAMINATHAN

    Genetically engineered crops provide uncommon opportunities to breed varieties that possess novel genetic combinations capable of conferring tolerance to a wide range of biotic and abiotic stresses. With the onset of the era of climate change, we will need genetic material capable of withstanding unfavorable alterations in temperature, precipitation, and sea level. Biodiversity is the feedstock for a climate-resilient farming system. Biodiversity is also the feedstock for the biotechnology industry. While the benefits of genetic engineering are clear, the potential risks have created public concern about the wisdom of releasing and consuming genetically modified crops. therefore, there is need for...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. PART 1. INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL BIOSAFETY IN RELATION TO GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS
    • Production of Genetically Engineered Crops, Relationship to Conventional Plant Breeding, and Implications for Safety Assessment
      (pp. 3-14)
      REBECCA GRUMET

      Genetically Engineered (GE) crops are developed using a combination of genetic engineering (recombinant DNA technologies) and conventional plant breeding methods. the novelty of techniques employed in introducing new genes and traits into these crops through genetic engineering has prompted extensive debate, and has led to the establishment of regulations at national and international levels to ensure safe deployment. as a starting point for discussions of environmental safety in subsequent chapters, this chapter will provide an introduction to GE crops and their relationship to crops produced by conventional techniques.

      Genetic engineering, by definition, involves genes. all living organisms (plants, animals, microbes)...

    • Environmental Issues Associated with Agricultural Production Systems
      (pp. 15-20)
      KURT D. THELEN

      Agriculture is one of the predominant uses of land worldwide. Approximately 40% of the world’s land area, at least 1.5 billion hectares, is under cultivation, and over two-thirds of human water use is for agriculture (FAO 2010; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Agricultural production systems impart a significant environmental footprint on the surrounding ecosystems. The quality of soil, water, and air is affected by agricultural activities occurring on the surrounding landscape. Many of these activities adversely affect environmental quality, contributing to desertification, soil degradation, deforestation, global warming, and water scarcity (FAO 2010; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). However, improved agricultural management practices...

    • Environmental Biosafety Issues Associated with Genetically Engineered Crops
      (pp. 21-30)
      CHOLANI WEEBADDE and KARIM M. MAREDIA

      Biotechnological tools allow the transfer of DNA between distantly related species. These techniques have facilitated the engineering of novel traits into crops, including insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, virus resistance and nutritional enhancement. The most widely deployed genetically engineered (GE) crops today contain insect resistance and herbicide tolerance, with farmers in over 25 countries growing these crops (James 2008). Many other traits are in the pipeline, such as tolerance to drought and cold and increases in the ability to use soil nitrogen (Grumet et al., this volume). Many of these target traits have been difficult or impossible to develop using conventional...

    • Current Status of Genetically Engineered Crops and Assessment of Environmental Impacts
      (pp. 31-46)
      HECTOR QUEMADA

      Genetically engineered (GE) crops have been commercially grown since 1996, when the first such crops were planted in the United States. Since then, the adoption of these crops has been rapid. James (2009) has provided an global overview of the current status of these crops: a total of roughly 134 million hectares (330 million acres) were grown worldwide in 2008; plantings of genetically engineered crops expanded from the the United States to 25 countries; North America was the largest producer of GE crops (the United States and Canada account for 64% of the world plantings) followed by South America with...

    • Future Possible Genetically Engineered Crops and Traits and Their Potential Environmental Impacts
      (pp. 47-58)
      REBECCA GRUMET, LAREESA WOLFENBARGER and ALEJANDRA FERENCZI

      The “first wave” of genetically engineered (GE) crops was focused nearly exclusively on very high acreage crops and a handful of readily cloned, highly effective genes conferring insect resistance and herbicide tolerance (table 1). There were also a few instances of genetically engineered virus resistance in squash and papaya, but together they have accounted for less than 0.1% of transgenic acreage (Brookes and Barfoot 2006; James 2006). The next decade of GE crops promises to bring a host of new crops, genes, traits, and locations, and with it, a broader range of environmental safety questions. The increase in variety is...

  6. PART 2. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS
    • Factors Influencing the Genetic Diversity of Plant Species and the Potential Impact of Transgene Movement
      (pp. 61-74)
      JAMES F. HANCOCK

      Biodiversity in native and agroecosystems is a function of species composition (number of species, relative abundance) and the genetic makeup of individual species. Biodiversity is negatively affected if there are reductions in species abundance or levels of genetic diversity within species. The potential impact of a GE crop on biodiversity will depend on the invasiveness of the crop itself and changes in the competitive ability of any relatives that receive a transgene through hybridization. Herein, I will discuss the major evolutionary forces that assort genetic variability in native species and then use this information to describe how transgene movement might...

    • Control and Monitoring of Gene Flow From Genetically Engineered Crops
      (pp. 75-86)
      JAMES F. HANCOCK and MARK HALSEY

      In this chapter, we will briefly describe the concepts associated with confined field trials and explore the methods employed to prevent gene flow, manage risk, and ensure that such trials are done safely. We will discuss how to evaluate the risk of transgene escape into the environment via pollen and seed dispersal for unconfined release. We will also describe some of the technologies that can be used to prevent transgene flow, and the potential for monitoring for transgene escape.

      Modern plant varieties—whether produced by conventional plant breeding or by the advanced techniques of modern biotechnology—go through a well-defined...

    • Evaluation of Potential Impacts of Genetically Engineered Plant-Incorporated Protectants on Non-target Organisms
      (pp. 87-104)
      ROBYN ROSE

      Agricultural biotechnology has fundamentally changed the way crops can be genetically modified to provide resistance to pests. Genetically engineered (GE) crops that express insect-pest resistance traits could facilitate a shift away from the reliance on broadspectrum insecticides and toward biological-based pest management. Like any insect control technology, GE crops may present a risk to beneficial insects such as the natural enemy community, pollinators, and organisms involved in decomposition and nutrient cycling. The use of insect-resistant plants is not equally appropriate for all crops in all agricultural systems. Therefore, a case-by-case scientific analysis of risks and benefits should be conducted before...

    • Pests Resistant to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Crop Plants: Theory and Management
      (pp. 105-122)
      CHRISTINA DIFONZO, EDWARD GRAFIUS, DAVID E. HILLGER, CHAD D. LEE and JAMES J. KELLS

      Pesticide resistance is one of the most common problems in managing insects, diseases, and weeds. Hundreds of species of insects have developed resistance to one or more insecticides, and insect pests such as the diamondback moth, the Colorado potato beetle, and the green peach aphid are resistant to 40 or more insecticides in multiple chemical families (Whalon et al. 2010; Onstad 2008). resistance to herbicides is also very common in weeds (Heap 2010).

      Insects developing resistance to genetically modified (GM) crops is also a major concern. All of the current commercially available insect-resistant crops use genes derived fromBacillus thuringiensis...

    • A Problem-Based Approach to Environmental Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered Crops
      (pp. 123-128)
      JAMES F. HANCOCK and HECTOR QUEMADA

      One of the most difficult problems facing regulatory bodies that make decisions regarding environmental biosafety of GE crops is determining what constitutes sufficient data to make risk assessments. To efficiently assess the potential impact of a GE crop, decisions must first be made about which specific issues are of concern to regulatory agencies. The list of what could be affected by a GE crop is almost endless, when one considers all the possible organisms that it can potentially come in contact with. The key to developing an efficient, reliable regulatory system is to establish a systematic risk assessment process that...

  7. PART 3. REGULATION OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS WITH RESPECT TO ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY
    • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and Other International Regulations
      (pp. 131-146)
      FEE CHON LOW and ROBERT J. FREDERICK

      Once begun more than two decades ago, the development and use of biotechnology has been rapid, widespread, and accompanied by no small measure of controversy. The breadth and vigor of the controversy reflects widely divergent views of the safety and potential benefits of biotechnology products, especially those such as transgenic crops intended for release into the environment. Consequently, there has been a strong interest in establishing policies and procedures to ensure that these products are appropriately regulated both nationally and internationally. In response to this need, a variety of international environmental and trade regulations have been developed that have had,...

    • Systems to Regulate Genetically Engineered Plants: Similarities and Differences among Countries
      (pp. 147-156)
      KAREN HOKANSON and ALEJANDRA FERENCZI

      In 1986, the United States was the first country to establish its regulatory authority for genetically engineered organisms when it published its “Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology.” The global community has since then gained experience in the regulation of genetically engineered plants during the 20 years since genetically engineered organisms were first regulated, and a growing list of plants have been safely approved for experimental and commercial use. yet, considering that human beings have been domesticating plants for at least 10,000 years, and systematically breeding plants for about 300 years, and successfully genetically engineering plants for less than...

    • Bio-Innovations and the Economics of Biosafety Regulatory Decision Making and Design in Developing Countries
      (pp. 157-172)
      JOSÉ FALCK-ZEPEDA and PATRICIA ZAMBRANO

      Bio-innovations such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs)¹ have shown great promise in addressing specific needs of farmers in developing and advanced countries. In the early 1980s, when the first genetically modified (GM) technologies were released into the environment, there was relatively little knowledge about the potential environmental and health effects of releasing GMOs. The novelty of GMO innovations led scientists and policymakers to design and implement protocols and procedures that would ensure proper safety assessments. These procedures, formalized in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, are now an established prerequisite in many countries for GM research and release into the environment....

  8. PART 4. FUTURE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
    • Risk-Benefit Communication for Transgenic Crops
      (pp. 175-188)
      MUFFY KOCH and ADRIANNE MASSEY

      Risk-benefit communication is an important component of the development and commercialization of biotechnology products across all sectors: health, agriculture, industry, and environment. This chapter is limited to the role that risk-benefit communication plays during transgenic crop development and the subsequent release and use of these crops by growers. Although we focus primarily on risk communication, information on the benefits of new biotechnology products in agriculture is also essential for informed decision making. The chapter provides recognized principles for risk communication and outlines effective communication strategies for both regulatory decisions and technical information, providing examples to help illustrate these concepts.

      Biosafety...

    • Capacity Building in Biosafety
      (pp. 189-208)
      KARIM M. MAREDIA, CHOLANI WEEBADDE, JOHN KOMEN and KAKOLI GHOSH

      The recent advances of modern biotechnology, when properly applied in agriculture, offer significant potential to enhance agricultural productivity, food and nutritional security, economic growth, and environmental quality globally (Karanja 2003; Kent and Monium 2002; Ruane and Zimmermann 2001). Modern biotechnology provides plant breeders with tools to introduce new traits into crop plants that could not have been produced through conventional plant breeding approaches. Currently, more than 25 countries around the world are growing and benefiting from the genetically modified crops (James 2010).

      The potential for adverse environmental and human health consequences arising from the introduction and importation of genetically engineered...

    • The Evolving International Regulatory Regime: Impact on Agricultural Development
      (pp. 209-224)
      JOHN KOMEN and SILVIA SALAZAR

      Biotechnology has become an important and integral tool for research aimed at increasing the efficiency and sustainability of agriculture and food production. However, as with other new technologies, its technical, social, and economic implications have created concerns. The special nature of biotechnology, as a means to manipulate living organisms, creates debate. Regulatory systems are one way for society to find a balance among the potential benefits, risks, and concerns emanating from biotechnologies.

      Compliance with regulatory review procedures has become an essential element in the research, development, and product deployment strategies of public-and private-sector technology developers. This fact is illustrated by...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 225-230)
  10. Index
    (pp. 231-234)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-235)