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.

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. […]

Glyphosate and Roundup Disrupt Gut Microbiome and Blood Chemistry in Rats

Research shows that glyphosate and Roundup disrupt the gut microbiome of rats by the same mechanism by which the chemical acts as a weedkiller, even at low doses that regulators claim to be safe. […]

Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences of Transgenes in Wild Cotton

Transgenes in wild cotton can affect its physiological, metabolic, and ecological processes, demonstrating the need for monitoring of transgene frequency in wild populations and associated ecological consequences, so as to protect the primary genetic pool. […]

Rat Study Finds Glyphosate Increases Disease Incidence in Future Generations

This study on rats provides evidence that the health effects from glyphosate can be inherited by subsequent generations, suggesting the need to assess the impacts of environmental exposures on future generations. […]

A Feminist Ethics of Care Framework for Risk Assessment of GM Crops

This study finds that current risk assessment of GM crops in South Africa is flawed, stemming from a neoliberal, productivist perception, and recommends the Feminist Ethics of Care as a holistic framework that acknowledges the strength of socio-ecological relationships. […]

GM Crops Unlikely to Ever Meet the Requirements of Sustainable Agriculture

Despite the promises, GM crops, including the new gene-edited crops, are unlikely to ever meet the agronomic, social and environmental requirements of sustainable agriculture. […]

Glyphosate-resistant Weed from the US Invades Japan through GM Grain Imports

A glyphosate-resistant weed has naturalized in Japan less than 10 years after it was first discovered in the US, the largest exporter of GM glyphosate-resistant grain to Japan, providing evidence that GM crop imports can be a pathway for spread of problematic weed species. […]