Environmental fate and effects of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins from transgenic crops: a review

J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jun 15;53(12):4643-53. doi: 10.1021/jf040442k.


This paper reviews the scientific literature addressing the environmental fate and nontarget effects of the Cry protein toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), specifically resulting from their expression in transgenic crops. Published literature on analytical methodologies for the detection and quantification of the Cry proteins in environmental matrices is also reviewed, with discussion of the adequacy of the techniques for determining the persistence and mobility of the Bt proteins. In general, assessment of the nontarget effects of Bt protein toxins indicates that there is a low level of hazard to most groups of nontarget organisms, although some investigations are of limited ecological relevance. Some published reports on the persistence of the proteins in soil show short half-lives, whereas others show low-level residues lasting for many months. Improvements in analytical methods will allow a more complete understanding of the fate and significance of Bt proteins in the environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins / adverse effects*
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Toxins / adverse effects*
  • Bacterial Toxins / analysis
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Birds
  • Endotoxins / adverse effects*
  • Endotoxins / analysis
  • Endotoxins / genetics
  • Endotoxins / metabolism*
  • Fishes
  • Gene Expression
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Insecta
  • Insecticides
  • Invertebrates
  • Mammals
  • Pest Control, Biological
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / chemistry
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism*
  • Soil / analysis
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Wasps / drug effects


  • Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Endotoxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Insecticides
  • Soil
  • insecticidal crystal protein, Bacillus Thuringiensis