EPA Science Inventory

TRANSGENIC PLANTS: ENVIRONMENTAL PERSISTENCE AND EFFECTS ON SOIL AND PLANT ECOSYSTEMS

Citation:

Donegan, K. K. AND R J. Seidler. TRANSGENIC PLANTS: ENVIRONMENTAL PERSISTENCE AND EFFECTS ON SOIL AND PLANT ECOSYSTEMS. Presented at Ecological Impacts of Transgenic Crops Workshop, Berkeley, CA, March 2-4, 2000.

Description:

The genetic engineering of plants has facilitated the production of valuable agricultural and forestry crops. Transgenic plants have been created that have increased resistance to pests, herbicides, pathogens, and environmental stress, enhanced qualitative and quantitative traits, and the ability to produce industrial and pharmaceutical compounds. The commercial use of transgenetic plants has greatly increased worldwide. In the United States, approximately 3.6 million acres were planted with transgenic crops during 1996 and by 1998 the acreage planted with transgenic crops had increased to 50 to 60 million. Fifty-two transgenic plant species, that produce 35 different gene products, have been, or are in the process of being, commercialized in the United States. Because some transgenic plants carry genes and produce compounds foreign to their environment, can grow and establish outside of their natural habitat, and have enhanced survival, persistence, and competitive capabilities, there are several concerns about their environnmental use and potential ecological effects. These concerns include invasiveness, gene flow to indigenous organisms, development of resistance in target pests, and direct or indirect effects on nontarget organisms and ecosystems. In this presentation, we summarize several microcosm and field stidies we have performed using different transgenic plants to evaluate the persistence of their products and their effects on soil and plant organisms. These studies used cotton, potato, tabacco, and alfalfa plants that were engineered for the production of pesticidal products (Bacillus thuringiensis endotoxins and proteinase inhibitors) and industrial compounds (alpha-amylase and lignin peroxidase). We discuss our studies in relation to future research needs for assessing the impacts of transgenic plants on soil and plant ecosystems.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Start Date: 03/02/2000
Completion Date: 03/02/2000
Record Last Revised: 06/06/2005
Record Created: 09/26/2003
Record Released: 09/26/2003
Record ID: 60463

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

TERRESTRIAL PLANT ECOLOGY BRANCH