Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ecol Lett. 2006 Feb;9(2):196-214.

Assessing environmental risks of transgenic plants.

Author information

  • 1Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, 219 Hodson Hall, St Paul, MN 55108, USA.


By the end of the 1980s, a broad consensus had developed that there were potential environmental risks of transgenic plants requiring assessment and that this assessment must be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the transgene, recipient organism, intended environment of release, and the frequency and scale of the intended introduction. Since 1990, there have been gradual but substantial changes in the environmental risk assessment process. In this review, we focus on changes in the assessment of risks associated with non-target species and biodiversity, gene flow, and the evolution of resistance. Non-target risk assessment now focuses on risks of transgenic plants to the intended local environment of release. Measurements of gene flow indicate that it occurs at higher rates than believed in the early 1990s, mathematical theory is beginning to clarify expectations of risks associated with gene flow, and management methods are being developed to reduce gene flow and possibly mitigate its effects. Insect pest resistance risks are now managed using a high-dose/refuge or a refuge-only strategy, and the present research focuses on monitoring for resistance and encouraging compliance to requirements. We synthesize previous models for tiering risk assessment and propose a general model for tiering. Future transgenic crops are likely to pose greater challenges for risk assessment, and meeting these challenges will be crucial in developing a scientifically coherent risk assessment framework. Scientific understanding of the factors affecting environmental risk is still nascent, and environmental scientists need to help improve environmental risk assessment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk