Potential for the environmental impact of transgenic crops

Nat Biotechnol. 2002 Jun;20(6):567-74. doi: 10.1038/nbt0602-567.


In recent years, there has been increasing interest in how changes in agricultural practice associated with the introduction of particular genetically modified (GM) crops might indirectly impact the environment. There is also interest in any effects that might be associated with recombinant and novel combinations of DNA passing into the environment, and the possibility that they may be taken up by microorganisms or other live biological material. From the current state of knowledge, the impact of free DNA of transgenic origin is likely to be negligible compared with the large amount of total free DNA. We can find no compelling scientific arguments to demonstrate that GM crops are innately different from non-GM crops. The kinds of potential impacts of GM crops fall into classes familiar from the cultivation of non-GM crops (e.g., invasiveness, weediness, toxicity, or biodiversity). It is likely, however, that the novelty of some of the products of GM crop improvement will present new challenges and perhaps opportunities to manage particular crops in creative ways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environment
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal / genetics*
  • Genetic Engineering / trends
  • Insecticide Resistance / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / growth & development*
  • Risk Assessment