You are here:
REMOTE SENSING FOR BIOENGINEERED CROPS
Glaser*, J A. REMOTE SENSING FOR BIOENGINEERED CROPS. Presented at 2003 EPA Science Forum, Washington, DC, May 05 - 07, 2003.
To inform the public
Increasing interest in the responsible management of technology in the industrial and agricultural sectors of the economy has been met through the development of broadly applicable tools to assess the "sustainability" of new technologies. An arena ripe for application of such analysis is the deployment of transgenic crops. The new transgenic crops have seen wide spread application in the U.S. based on the features of higher yield and lower applications of insecticides. The agency has declared these crops to be "in the public good". Hence they are environmental assets that are valued for crop protection having significant human health and ecological protection features. From a sustainability perspective, it is important to protect these crops so that society can enjoy long useful lifetimes for these new forms of biotechnology. The major threat to extended lifetimes is the development of resistance toward the crop in pest populations for which the crop protects. Detection and monitoring of resistance development becomes crucial to avoid any premature crop loss due to pest resistance. The crop acreage for Bt corn is about 20 million acres in recent years. Any realistic attempt to sample such a large acreage for resistance is difficult and probably beyond the cost that can be endured for resistance management. A new approach to this problem will be discussed that uses satellite imagery to distinguish conventional corm from Bt corn and detect pest infestation. A plant is expected to change its reflected light signature in response to insect herbivory and it is through this indirect evidence that pest infestation can be detected using remote imagery. Once areas of possible infestation are detected in the satellite image, the use of land-based crews to verify by infield inspection and supplemental testing is anticipated to be a first leg of any required remedial action. It is critical for the success of these new forms of bioengineered crops that the required mangement oversight be supported by the best information available. This new application of remote sensing permits that reduction of the massive undertaking of bioengineered corn crop management to a discrete set of steps that are economically achievable.