Organizations & People
and the Environment Division (VI)
Title: Impact of transgenic crops
on the use of agrochemicals and the environment
Chairman: Gjis Kleter
Carazo, Allan S
Kuiper, Kenneth D.
Racke, Baruch Rubin,
Gerald R. Stephenson,
Keiji Tanaka, John
Unsworth, and Don
Completion Date: 2007 - project completed
Evaluation of data on the use of agrochemicals
on transgenic crops, and comparison with treatment of traditional
Evaluation of data on the ecological impact of
transgenic crops in relation to changes in agrochemical use
Environmental risk-benefit analysis of transgenic
Comparison of regulatory frameworks for the introduction
of transgenic crops with respect to risk/benefit assessment
Cultivation of transgenic crops has been spectacular over the last
5 years. The estimated global area of transgenic crops has increased
from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 44.2 million in 2000. Herbicide
tolerant soybeans and cotton and insect resistant corn and cotton
account for most of the transgenic crop acreage. Other commercial
transgenic crops include herbicide tolerant canola and corn. Most
of the transgenic crops are grown in the USA, Argentina, Canada,
and China. In Europe commercial cultivation of GM crops is very
limited, primarily due to concerns expressed by environmental and
Potential environmental benefits of the cultivation of transgenic
crops are among others:
(i) less crop injury due to pests and diseases resulting in increased
(ii) easier and more flexible weed/insect control,
(iii) reduction of mechanical soil treatment, and
(iv) selective replacement of agrochemicals by environmentally more
friendly ones, and reduced use.
Potential environmental risks include
(i) gene transfer and outcrossing to related plant species,
(ii) greater reliance on herbicides and increased use,
(iii) build-up of resistance in pest insects,
(iv) negative effects on non-target species,
(v) shifts in application of agrochemicals and associated negative
consequences for the environment, and
(vi) loss of biodiversity
There is still limited experience with cultivation of transgenic
crops in relatively constrained areas, and information on the use
of agrochemicals on these crops and the associated impact on the
environment is still scarce.
In this project the extending database on the use of agrochemicals
on transgenic crops will be analysed and assessed with respect to
its environmental impact. On this basis a risk-benefit analysis
will be made, which may contribute to a better understanding and
assessment of the environmental issues involved in the introduction
of transgenic crops and in an improved risk communication.
Data will be collected concerning the cultivation of transgenic
crops for food and non-food uses, the use of agrochemicals on these
crops, and possible effects on the environment. Shifts in use of
agrochemicals (compounds/quantities, application modes and windows,
consequences for air/ground water emission profiles) will be analysed
and compared with uses on conventionally grown crops.
Changes will be analysed with respect to potential hazards and
risks for the environment. Environmental Impact Quotients will also
be calculated. Furthermore possible effects on the ecosystem will
be analysed with respect to gene transfer, shifts in pest species,
build-up of pest resistance, and effects on nontarget organisms.
The influence of pesticide use on transgenic plants will be analyzed
with respect to altered plant metabolism, formation of new metabolites
of agrochemicals, altered residue levels and associated consequences
for the environment.
Transgenic crops to be investigated include soybeans, canola, corn,
cotton, potato, wheat, and rice.
An analysis will be made of existing regulatory frameworks at the
international level with respect to large scale environmental releases
and possibilities of monitoring adverse effects.
Data sources will include published literature, reports from government
monitoring programs, information generated by biotechnology firms,
pesticide manufacturers, industry associations and extension services.
Countries of interest are the US, Canada, Israel, Argentina, Australia
Cooperation will be sought with experts in toxicology, food chemistry,
pest management, and agrochemicals. Furthermore connections will
be established with OECD, EPA, USDA, the EU, grower associations,
and industry groups. The majority of project work communication
will occur via e-mail and phone conferences, and at least two face-to-face
consultations will be required for project completion.
A first progress report was presented at the IUPAC Congress
on the Chemistry of Crop Protection during 2002 in Basel. Since,
the project has attracted a wide interest and has resulted in several
publications, including a peer-reviewed article [Brimner et al.,
2005, Pest Management Science 61, 47-52; doi:10.1002/ps.967],
five conference proceedings, and a congress poster.
In addition, the project team convened an evening seminar during
the IUPAC 2006 Crop Protection Chemistry Congress in Kobe, Japan.
conference report, CI Jan 2007, p. 30]
- Gijs A. Kleter, Raj Bhula, Kevin Bodnaruk, Elisabeth Carazo, Alan
S. Felsot, Caroline A. Harris, Arata Katayama, Harry A. Kuiper,
Kenneth Racke, Baruch Rubin, Yehuda Shevah, Gerald R. Stephenson,
Keiji Tanaka, John Unsworth, and Sue-Sun Wong, "Altered Pesticide
Use on Transgenic Crops and the Associated General Impact from an
Environmental Perspective", Pest Manag. Sci. 2007, 63(11),
- Gijs A. Kleter, Caroline A. Harris, Gerald R. Stephenson, and
John Unsworth, entitled "Comparison of herbicide regimes and
the associated potential environmental effects of glyphosate-resistant
crops vs. what they replace in Europe," Pest Management
Science, published online: 27 Dec 2007; doi:10.1002/ps.1513.
Other conference proceedings
- G.A. Kleter, R. Bhula, K. Bodnaruk, E. Carazo, A.S. Felsot, C.A.
Harris, A. Katayama, H.A. Kuiper, K. Racke, B. Rubin, Y. Shevah,
G.R. Stephenson, K. Tanaka, J. Unsworth, and S.S Wong, The effect
of the cultivation of genetically modified crops on the use of pesticides
and the impact thereof on the environment, in IUPAC/CICA-UCR/SFE-MAG
International Workshop on Crop Protection Chemistry in Latin America:
Harmonized Approaches for Environmental Assessment and Regulation,
14-17 February 2005, University of Costa Rica, San Jose, pp. 49-76
- G.A. Kleter, R. Bhula, E. Carazo, A.S. Felsot, C.A. Harris, A.
Katayama, H.A. Kuiper, K. Racke, B. Rubin, Y. Sheva, G.R. Stephenson,
K. Tanaka, J. Unsworth, and S.S. Wong, Impact of transgenic crops
on the use of agrochemicals and the environment, in Proceedings
of the IUPAC-KSPS International Workshop on Pesticides 2003, October
13-16, Seoul, Korea, pp. 55-61 (2003).
- G.A. Kleter and H.A. Kuiper, Environmental fate and impact considerations
related to the use of transgenic crops, in Chemistry of Crop Protection,
Progress and Prospects in Science and Regulation, ed. by Voss G
and Ramos G, Wiley, Weinheim, pp. 305-321 (2003).
- G.A. Kleter and H.A. Kuiper, Assessing the environmental impact
of changes in pesticide use on transgenic crops, in Environmental
Costs and Benefits of Transgenic Crops, Wageningen UR Frontis Series
vol. 7, ed. by Wesseler J, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 33-43 (2004).
> Table of Contents > article 3a, 22 March 2007]
- G.A. Kleter, R. Bhula, K. Bodnaruk, E. Carazo, A.S. Felsot, C.A. Harris, A. Katayama, H.A. Kuiper, K.D. Racke, B. Rubin, Y. Shevah, G.R. Stephenson, K. Tanaka, J. Unsworth, R.D. Wauchope, S.S. Wong, Trends in pesticide use on transgenic versus conventional crops. ISB News Report, (August 2008), pp. 5-8. (2008) [Online]
The team is also involved in subsequent IUPAC project on the evaluation
of food and feed safety implications of (altered) residues of pesticides
applied on transgenic (GM) crops.
> see project # 2006-015-3-600
Last update: 30 September 2008
<project announcement published
you want to update this information, contact us by e-mail
Do not forget to include the Project Number,
your name and relation with that project
Page last modified 30 September 2008.
Copyright ©1997-2008 International Union of Pure and Applied
Questions or comments about IUPAC, please contact, the Secretariat.
Questions regarding the website, please contact web