Impacts of GM crops on biodiversity

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Abstract or Summary

The potential impact of genetically modified (GM) crops on
biodiversity has been a topic of general interest as well as
specifically in the context of the Convention on Biological
Diversity. Agricultural biodiversity has been defined at
levels from genes to ecosystems that are involved or
impacted by agricultural production. After fifteen years of
commercial cultivation, a substantial body of literature now
exists addressing the potential impacts of GM crops on the
environment. This review takes a biodiversity lens to this
literature, considering the impacts at three levels: the crop,
farm and landscape scales. Within that framework, this review covers potential impacts of the introduction of genetically engineered crops on: crop diversity, non-target soil organisms, weeds, land use, non-target above-ground organisms and area-wide pest suppression. The emphasis of the review is on peer-reviewed literature that presents direct measures of impacts on biodiversity. In addition, possible impacts of changes in management practices such as tillage and pesticide use are also discussed to complement the literature on direct measures. The focus of the review is on technologies that have been commercialized somewhere in the world, while results
may emanate from non-adopting countries and regions.
Overall, the review finds that currently commercialized GM
crops have reduced the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, through enhanced adoption of conservation tillage practices, reduction of insecticide use and use of more environmentally benign herbicides and increasing yields to alleviate pressure to convert additional land into agricultural use.

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