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N Biotechnol. 2010 Nov 30;27(5):528-33. doi: 10.1016/j.nbt.2010.07.018. Epub 2010 Aug 1.

Does the use of transgenic plants diminish or promote biodiversity?

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1
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO, USA. Peter.Raven@mobot.org

Abstract

The protection of biodiversity and of ecosystem services ought to be a top priority, taken into consideration in the course of all human activities, because we depend on it fully now and for the future. In this context, we note that the ecological problems related to the cultivation of GE crops fail to differ in any fundamental way from the ecological problems associated with agriculture in general, except that they usually involve the application of much lower quantities of chemicals and thus tend to leave the environments in and adjacent to where they are grown in better condition than do the conventional ones. Higher productivity on cultivated lands, which is one outcome of growing GE crops, protects biodiversity by sparing lands not intensively cultivated, whereas relatively non-productive agriculture practised is highly destructive to biodiversity, since it consumes more land in an often destructive way, even though more biodiversity may be preserved among the crops themselves than in industrialized, large fields, especially if hedgerows and woodlands are not encouraged in near proximity. The major preservation of biodiversity, however, does not take place among crops! If weeds are present that are closely related to the crops, they may acquire immunity to the effects from which the crops were protected and be more difficult to control among them. The production of superweeds as a result of hybridization between cultivated crops and their wild relatives is essentially a myth. The definition of 'organic' production in the U.S. and elsewhere unjustifiably rules out GE crops, often in such a way as to damage the environment more than would be the case otherwise. Unless the definition of 'organic' is a problem, or close relatives to the crops are weedy among them, there seems to be essentially no ecological risk involved in growing GE crops.

PMID:
20678596
DOI:
10.1016/j.nbt.2010.07.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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