Assessment & Impacts

Principles and Approaches Genetic interactions in ecosystems are more dynamic and complex than acknowledged so far. Genetic change and genetic exchange phenomena seem to occur more frequently in nature than in laboratories, and may be regulated by unknown environmental factors. Local environmental conditions and chemical contaminants (pesticides and other xenobiotics), that will undoubtedly vary in concentrations and combinations between different locations are examples of such environmental factors. These may have impacts on the extent of horizontal gene transfer, and on how modified genes are expressed and affect the recipient organisms. Consequently, it is important to establish model systems in the laboratory, which mimic the ecological interactions and complexity of the real world.

Basis for risk assessment and management:
Risk and probability are not the same. Risk can be defined as the probability of an occurrence of an incident or phenomenon, multiplied by the consequences arising therefrom, if it occurs. At this moment we know little about both probability and consequences in relation to putative health and environmental effects of many genetic engineering applications.

Horizontal gene transfer: Horizontal gene transfer signifies a non-sexual transmission of genetic information within or between species. The phenomenon is common in nature, but our knowledge concerning ecological processes promoting such events and barriers prohibiting them is scanty.

Socio-economic considerations: The impact of genetically modified organisms goes beyond ecological and health dimensions. They have profound impact on society, including livelihoods, production systems, trade, culture and ethics.

Case Study on the Ecological Impacts of Gene Drives Raises Concerns

This paper proposes the outline of a comprehensive prospective approach to understand the susceptibility of an ecosystem to unintended and irreversible harm from gene drives. […]

GM Soy Exhibits Complex Metabolic Disturbances Under Stress Conditions

GM soybean exhibited complex metabolic disturbances under herbicide and drought stress conditions, suggesting a negative impact on plant composition, agronomic performance, and alterations in gene expression and regulation. […]

Risks of SDN-1 Plants Obtained from New Genetic Engineering

This study highlights the need for plants developed using new genetic engineering techniques to undergo case-specific risk assessment, taking both the properties of the end product and risks posed by the applied procedures into account. […]

Bt Toxins Targeting Fall Armyworm Affect Its Predator

This study provides evidence that the Bt toxins in Bt maize fed to fall armyworm affected its predator, causing histopathological changes in the midgut of the latter which may compromise its fitness. […]

Environmental Risk Assessment of Genome-Edited Plants

Environmental risk assessment of genome-edited plants should include considerations related to the traits developed by genome editing and considerations addressing the assessment of method-related unintended effects. […]

Glyphosate a Threat to Insects by Harming Their Symbiotic Bacterial Partners

Glyphosate has been found to inhibit symbiotic bacteria of the grain beetle, demonstrating that the herbicide, used widely with GM crops, has the potential to harm insects indirectly by destroying vital symbiotic relationships between insects and microorganisms. […]

Applied Pesticide Toxicity Increasing in the US, Even in GM Crops

A recent study shows that contrary to claims of reduced environmental impacts of pesticide use, the toxic impact of pesticides has increased in the US, and that GM crops are no better than conventional non-GM crops in this regard. […]

Potential Negative Impacts of Genome-Edited Plants on Ecosystems

This scientific publication explains the possible unintended effects that the release of a genome-edited plant can have on ecosystems, and the risk assessment challenges. […]

Herbicide Selection Increases Antibiotic Resistance in Soil Microbial Communities

The application of three herbicides widely used with GM crops—glyphosate, glufosinate, and dicamba—has been found to increase the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements in soil microbiomes, potentially contributing to the global antimicrobial resistance problem in agricultural environments. […]

Bt Crops May Speed Up Spread of Pests

Recent research in China and Brazil shows that the cultivation of GE Bt crops can speed up the spread of the cotton bollworm and white fly pests, respectively. […]