Six years after the commercial introduction of Bt maize in Spain: field evaluation, impact and future prospects

Transgenic Res. 2006 Feb;15(1):1-12. doi: 10.1007/s11248-005-3998-1.


We carried out a 6-year-field evaluation to assess potential hazards of growing Compa, a transgenic Bt maize variety based on the transformation event CG 00256-176. Two categories of hazards were investigated: the potential of the target corn borer Sesamia nonagrioides to evolve resistance to Bt maize and effects on non-target organisms. In order to address the first hazard, dispersal capacity of the corn borer was measured and our results indicated that larvae move to plants other than those onto which the female oviposited - even to plants in adjacent rows - in remarkable numbers and they do so mostly at a mature age, suggesting that mixing Bt and non-Bt seeds in the same field would not be a very useful deployment strategy to delay/prevent resistance. In addition, adults move among fields to mate and males may do so for up to 400 m. Three different aspects of potential non-target effects were investigated: sub-lethal effects on the target S. nonagrioides, effects on non-target maize pests, and effects on maize-dwelling predators. Larvae collected in Bt fields at later growth stages, in which event 176 Bt maize expresses Bt toxin at sub-lethal concentrations, had longer diapause and post-diapause development than larvae collected in non-Bt fields, a feature that might lead to a certain isolation between populations in both type of fields and accelerate Bt resistance evolution. Transgenic maize did not have a negative impact on non-target pests in the field; more aphids and leafhoppers but similar numbers of cutworms and wireworms were counted in Bt versus non-Bt fields; in any case differences in damage or yield were recorded. We observed no difference in the numbers of the most relevant predators in fields containing transgenic or no transgenic maize.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus thuringiensis / genetics*
  • Forecasting
  • Genetic Engineering* / trends
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / microbiology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / parasitology*
  • Spain
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / microbiology*
  • Zea mays / parasitology