, Volume 164, Issue 3, pp 903–912 | Cite as

Identifying indicator species for post-release monitoring of genetically modified, herbicide resistant crops

  • Angelika Hilbeck
  • Matthias Meier
  • Armin Benzler


In Europe, regulations for release and placing-on-the-market of genetically modified (GM) crops require post-release monitoring of their impact on the environment. Monitoring potential adverse effects of GM crops includes direct effects as well as indirect effects, e.g. GM crop specific changes in land and pest management. Currently, there is a gap in the pre-release risk assessments conducted for regulatory approval of GM herbicide resistant (HR) crops. Since the relevant non-selective herbicides have been registered many years ago, in current dossiers requesting regulatory approval of GM HR crops, the environmental impacts of the corresponding non-selective herbicides are either entirely omitted or the applicant simply refers to the eco-toxicological safety assessments conducted for its original pesticide approval that do not address environmental issues arising in conjunction with the cultivation of GM HR crops. Since the ‘Farm-scale Evaluations’, it is clear that consequences for farmland biodiversity can be expected. The objective of this project was to identify relevant indicator species for the long-term impact of GM HR maize cultivation and the application of their corresponding non-selective herbicides, glyphosate and glufosinate. In this article, we describe the outcome of a modified Event Tree Analysis, essentially a funnel-like procedure allowing to reduce the large number of potentially affected non-target species to those with greatest ecological relevance and highest risk to be adversely affected based on a number of ecological criteria. This procedure allowed us to identify a total of 21 weed-Lepidoptera associations that we proposed for post release monitoring of GM HR maize in Germany.


Indicator species Non-selective herbicides Non-target species Transgenic crops 



This work was supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with funds of the German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelika Hilbeck
    • 1
  • Matthias Meier
    • 2
  • Armin Benzler
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Integrative BiologyETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Kompetenzzentrum für Sicherheit und Risikoprävention (KSR)ZHAW Zurich University of Applied SciencesWinterthurSwitzerland
  3. 3.I 1.3 MonitoringFederal Agency for Nature ConservationBonnGermany

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