Risk assessment and ecological effects of transgenic Bt crops on non-target organisms

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Abstract or Summary

Application of recombinant DNA technology has resulted in many insect-resistant varieties by genetic engineering (GE), and the crops expressing Cry toxins derived from Baccillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been planted on a wide scale in the world, and they have been providing an effective tool for pest control. However, one ecological concern regarding the potential effects of insect-resistant GE plants on non-target organisms (NTOs) has been continually debated. We here briefly summarized the data regarding development and commercial use of transgenic Bt varieties, elaborated the procedure and methods for assessing non-target effects of insect-resistant GE plants and synthetically analyzed the related research results mostly published within recent 5 year. A mass of laboratory and field studies have shown that the currently available Bt crops have no direct detrimental effects on non-target organisms due to their narrow spectrum of activity, and Bt crops are increasing the abundance of some beneficial insects and improving the natural control of specific pests. Meanwhile, use of Bt crops such as Bt maize and Bt cotton results in significant reductions of insecticide application, clear benefits on environment and farmer health have been reported. Consequently, Bt crops can be a useful component of IPM systems to protect the crop from the targeted pests.

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