QHas there been research on the influence of gmo crops resistent for insects on the soil and organisms in the soil?

Has there been research on the influence of gmo crops resistent for insects on the soil and organisms in the soil?

AExpert Answer

Research has shown that the insecticidal proteins produced by insect-protected GM crops can be released into the soil.  The proteins are released from the roots as they develop and from plant tissues and pollen in the soil as they decay.  Therefore, assessment of the potential effects of these proteins on soil organisms is an important component of the regulatory review of insect-protected GM crops.  Direct testing is conducted against earthworms and springtails, both of which are important in processing organic matter and maintaining a healthy soil.  No effects of the insecticidal proteins have been seen on these organisms. Other studies have shown a lack of effect on nematodes, protozoa, bacteria, and fungi. Research is also routinely conducted on the stability of the insecticidal proteins in soil.  This research shows that these proteins, just like other proteins, rapidly break down in agricultural soils.  In addition to this, the EPA has required data on the potential for the insecticidal proteins to accumulate in fields where the GM crops have been grown over multiple growing seasons.  Again, this research shows that the proteins are not present once the plant matter has decayed after harvest.  Finally, studies have been conducted on soil structure and function with GM and non-GM crops.  These studies again show that growing GM crops does not affect the ability of the soil to process organic matter and support a healthy crop.

 

It is important to remember that the source of these insecticidal proteins is itself a common soil-dwelling bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis.  This means that exposure of soil and soil organisms to these proteins is not unique to GM crop fields, but occurs in every field.

Posted on March 28, 2017
Thanks for the question, which I will address in two ways here.   1. What are three ways that organisms are modified by scientists? Here I will focus only on plants.   a. Agrobacterium: Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Agro) is a naturally occurring soil organism that causes a disease in plants called crown gall disease. In the late 1970s, Mary-Dell Chilton discovered that Agro actually transfers genes (DNA) from the Agro to the plant cell, where it becomes integrated into the plant... Read More
Posted on December 1, 2016
Viroids are very small pieces of circular RNA that have the potential of causing plant diseases. These entities are infectious agents that are different from viruses because they have no protein coat encircling their genetic material. Thus far, viroids are only known to be effective infectious agents in plants. Viroids have not been associated with any animal disease, and they have not been found in animal cells and tissues.    Biotechnological tools are being used in... Read More
Posted on May 5, 2016
Thank you for your question regarding the benefits of GMOs. Our experts have answered similar questions in the past – please see below for a comprehensive overview on this topic which should help address your question.   WHAT IS A GMO?   When people refer to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), they are referring to precision plant breeding using genetic engineering. It allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait (like resistance to drought, insects, weeds, and... Read More