Biotech Updates

Bt Crop Effects on Non-Target Arthropods: A Meta-Analysis

May 9, 2008

Genetically modified Bt crops have no negative effect on the survival of non-target organisms, according to a new study published by the online journal PlosOne. The meta-analysis, conducted by scientists from the University of Nebraska, Iowa state University and US Department of Agriculture, made use of 47 independent studies that focused on the effects of BT cotton, maize and potato on non-target arthropods.

The researchers noted that parasites of target pests were found to be less abundant in Bt cotton and maize fields compared to unsprayed non-Bt controls. There was no significant reduction in number of other parasitoids. Predator-to-prey ratios were unchanged by either Bt crops or the use of insecticides; ratios were found to be higher in Bt maize relative to the sprayed non-Bt control. The scientists hope that the results of the study will provide other researchers with information to design more robust experiments and inform the decisions of diverse stakeholders regarding the safety of transgenic insecticidal crops.

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