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Record information and status
Record ID
Date of creation
2012-05-09 15:18 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2012-05-25 18:51 UTC (manoela.miranda@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-06-01 19:21 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)

General Information
Fitness and beyond: Preparing for the arrival of GM crops with ecologically important novel characters
Mike Wilkinson and Mark Tepfer
Author’s contact information
Mike Wilkinson
Email: jjw@aber.ac.uk

Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences,
Edward Llwyd Building, Wales University,
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY233DA,
  • English
Publication date
Summary, abstract or table of contents

The seemingly inexorable expansion of global human population size, significant increases in the use of biofuel crops and the growing pressures of multifunctional land-use have intensified the need to improve crop productivity. The widespread cultivation of high-yielding genetically modified (GM) crops could help to address these problems, although in doing so, steps must also be taken to ensure that any gene flow from these crops to wild or weedy recipients does not cause significant ecological harm. It is partly for this reason that new GM cultivars are invariably subjected to strict regulatory evaluation in order to assess the risks that each may pose to the environment. Regulatory bodies vary in their approach to decision-making, although all require access to large quantities of detailed information. Such an exhaustive case-by-case approach has been made tractable by the comparative simplicity of the portfolio of GM crops currently on the market, with four crops and two classes of traits accounting for almost all of the area under cultivation of GM crops. This simplified situation will change shortly, and will seriously complicate and potentially slow the evaluation process. Nowhere will the increase diversity of GM crops cause more difficulty to regulators than in those cases where there is a need to assess whether the transgene(s) will enhance fitness in a non-transgenic relative and thereafter cause ecological harm. Current practice to test this risk hypothesis focuses on attempting to detect increased fitness in the recipient. In this paper we explore the merits and shortcomings of this strategy, and investigate the scope for developing new approaches to streamline decision-making processes for transgenes that could cause unwanted ecological change.
Thematic areas
  • Scientific and technical issues
    • Risk assessment
Background material to the “Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms”
Is this document is recommend as background material for the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms”
Section(s) of the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” this background material is relevant
  • 3. Risk assessment of living modified plants with tolerance to abiotic stress
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Article (journal / magazine / newspaper)
  • Report / Review / Fact sheet / Notes
DOI: 10.1051/ebr/2009003
Publisher and its location
EDP Sciences
© ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2009
14 page PDF
Environmental Biosafety Research
Keywords and any other relevant information
Keywords: environmental risk assessment / fitness / fitness parameters / GM crops / invasiveness / weediness

Citation: Environ. Biosafety Res. 8 (2009) 1-14