Title of Project

Transgenic Plants: Environmental and Agricultural Issues

Researcher Information

Ivonne Wheelock

Project Type

Event

Location

Alvin Sherman Library 2053

Start Date

4-4-2003 12:00 AM

End Date

4-4-2003 12:00 AM

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Apr 4th, 12:00 AM Apr 4th, 12:00 AM

Transgenic Plants: Environmental and Agricultural Issues

Alvin Sherman Library 2053

The purpose of this literature research project was to investigate the impact transgenic plants may have on the environment, U.S farmers, and third world farmers. This was done through an assessment of a number of peer-reviewed journal articles. Transgenic plants are rapidly being developed through the use of biotechnology for a variety of agricultural, pharmaceutical, and industrial uses. Others are being developed specifically for environmental purposes. Transgenic Arabidopsis spp. plants were reported to function as pollution cleaners by effectively absorbing heavy metals. With crops engineered to produce their own Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins, pesticide use is expected to decrease. Herbicide-resistant crops reduce the applications of herbicide needed, although the Union of Concerned Scientists reports that some farmers experienced more herbicide usage and incurred more expenses with bioeingeered crops such as Monsanto’s RoundupReady® soy and Bt cotton. Some transgenic crops may pose possible environmental risks. A major risk is the accelerated development of insect resistance to the Bt toxins. Resistant pest populations would not only undo the environmental benefit of no longer needing to use pestidices, but also harm organic farmers, as Bt sprays are one of their main resources for natural pest control. Third world farmers would benefit from the engineering of frost, drought, and pest resistant crops, obtaining higher yield, with less management effort. However, paying for the expensive technology (sometimes annually) might cancel out some of the third world farmers’ financial gain. Not many field studies have been performed as of yet, but transgenic plants do have potential to alter our environment at a grand scale.