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Record ID
Date of creation
2012-05-15 15:38 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2012-05-25 18:52 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-06-01 19:01 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)

General Information
Setup, efforts and practical experiences of a monitoring program for genetically modified plants - an Austrian case study for oilseed rape and maize.
Kathrin Pascher, Dietmar Moser, Stefan Dullinger, Leopold Sachslehner, Patrick Gros, Norbert Sauberer, Andreas Traxler, Georg Grabherr, Thomas Frank
Author’s contact information
Kathrin Pascher
Email: kathrin.pascher@univie.ac.at

University of Vienna, Department of Conservation Biology, Vegetation
Ecology and Landscape Ecology (CVL), Rennweg 14, A-1030 Vienna, Austria
  • English
Publication date
Summary, abstract or table of contents

Background, aim and scope: According to the Directive 2001/18/EC, genetically modified plants [GMPs] have to be monitored for unintended ecological impacts during their release. Detrimental effects on the biodiversity of agro-ecosystems represent a prime focus of such a monitoring. Although cropping of GMPs has already been permitted in the European Union, the establishment of appropriate monitoring networks lags behind. Here, we provide an overview on Biodiversity-Nature-Safety [BINATS], one of the first national monitoring programs specifically designed and implemented to accompany and survey GMP effects on the biodiversity of agricultural landscapes.

Materials and methods: BINATS was implemented on 100 test areas (625 m × 625 m) which were selected based on a stratified random sampling design from all across the Austrian agricultural landscape with a focus on maize and oilseed rape cultivation. For each test area, the distribution of different habitat structures was mapped, and the species number of vascular plants, the species number and abundance of butterflies and grasshoppers, as well as the abundance of potential hybridisation partners of oilseed rape were recorded on ten randomly distributed sampling sites (circles, radius 20 m).

Results and conclusions: Implementing BINATS resulted in a consistent database of the biodiversity and habitat configuration across parts of the Austrian agricultural landscapes. These data provide a baseline against which future biodiversity trends and their relationship with eventual GMP cropping can be evaluated. Moreover, they serve for assessing site-specific biodiversity-related risks of GMP cropping even in advance of their release. Finally, the first monitoring cycle (2007 and 2008) revealed insights into both the significance and the limits of such a monitoring program and allowed for a realistic calculation of the associated costs.

Recommendations and perspectives: Regular reassessments of the BINATS network will provide valuable insights into the change of biodiversity in Austrian agricultural landscapes and their potential drivers. BINATS was specifically designed to collect such information at comparatively low costs. However, the BINATS approach is flexible enough to include additional indicators or monitoring objects to take account for future insights into their  particular relevance in a GMP cropping context. The results obtained from the first BINATS cycle could not yet be correlated with GMP impacts since GMPs have not been commercially released in Austria so far. In this aspect, BINATS still needs to prove its suitability to relate biodiversity changes to GMP cropping. But it is intended to repeat the survey of the BINATS data in regular reassessments to improve our knowledge about the general biodiversity trends in agricultural landscapes free of GMP cropping. These baseline data should help to relate GMP-specific effects on biodiversity in future.
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
  • 6. Monitoring of Living Modified Organisms Released into the Environment
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Article (journal / magazine / newspaper)
Publisher and its location
© 2011 Pascher et al
12 page PDF
Environmental Sciences Europe
Keywords and any other relevant information
Citation: Pascher et al. Environmental Sciences Europe 2011, 23:12