Advertisement

Quantification of Human Health Risk Reduction Following the Introduction of Bt Cotton

  • Yun Zhou
  • William Kastenberg
Conference paper

Abstract

Genetically modified (GM) crops were first grown on commercial scales in the mid 1990’s. By 2002, 58.7 million hectares of genetically modified crops were planted worldwide [1]. The number of hectares planted has been increasing rapidly since the first commercial introduction. During the five-year period 1996-2000 the number of countries growing GM crops more than doubled, increasing from 6 in 1996 to 16 in 2002. Figure 1 gives the global area of GM crops during the period 1996-2002. The rapid adoption rates reflect the claims given by the biotechnology industry that GM crops will yield overall benefits. One such claim is that GM crops can bring financial and environmental benefits to farmers and consumers as a safe replacement for traditional synthetic chemical pesticides. Synthetic chemical pesticides have played an important role in crop protection since they were first introduced in the mid 1940’s. After Rachel Carson published her controversial book Silent Spring, regulatory agencies initiated a process of implementing stricter legislation to restrict the use of pesticides. Reduction of pesticide use following the introduction of GM crops has been well documented in the scientific literature after the first commercial introduction of GM crops [2]. However, its implications with respect to environmental and public health have yet to be well studied and little quantitative information is available on human health risk reduction resulting from the reduction of pesticide uses [3]. In this paper, the human health risks associated with reduced pesticide uses following the introduction of genetically modified crops are quantified. In this study, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton, a genetically modified crop, is chosen as the research focus based on its global popularity. Additionally, one of the most important benefits associated with Bt crops is to reduce insecticide uses. In 2002 the global area of GM cotton was 6.8 million hectares, of which 4.6 million were sown with the Bt trait [1]. Bt is a bacterium that produces insecticidal proteins. Bt’s toxins are very specific to certain harmful insects and are relatively safe to most beneficial insects and humans. Additionally, Bt toxins are biodegradable and not persistent in the soil [4]. GM cotton carrying the insect-resistant Bt gene was commercialized in 1996 in the United States. Figure 2 gives cotton statistical data during the period 1996-2000 in the United States [5]

Keywords

Genetically Modify Genetically Modify Crop Human Health Risk Methyl Parathion Lifetime Cancer Risk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    James C. Preview: Global Status of Commercialized Transgenic Crops: 2002. ISAAAR Briefs, 2002.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Phipps R.H., Park J.R. Environmental benefits of genetically modified crops: Global and European perspectives on their ability to reduce pesticide use. Journal of Animal and Feed Sciences, 2002; 11:1–18.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Biopesticides Registration Action Document: Revised Risks and Benefits Sections Bacillus Thuringiensis Plant — Pesticides. Environmental Protection Agency, 2001.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Van Frankenhuyzen K. The challenge of Bacillus thuringiensis. In: Bacillus thuringiensis, An Environmental Biopesticide: Theory and Practice. Chichester, UK: John Wiley&Sons, 1993Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gianessi L. P. and Carpenter J.E. Agricultural Biotechnology: Updated Benefit Estimates. National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, 2001.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Agricultural chemical usage: Field crops summary. USDA, National agricultural statistics service, 1991-2000: Available at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/nassr/other/pcu-bb/Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Liu C.S., Bennett D.H., Kastenberg W.E., McKone T.E., Browne, D.G. Multimedia, multiple pathway exposure assessment of atrazine: fate, transport and uncertainty analysis. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 1999; 63:169–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bennett D.H., Kastenberg W.E., McKone T.E. A multimedia, multiple pathway risk assessment of atrazine: the impact of age differentiated exposure including joint uncertainty and variability. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 1999; 63:185–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    US Environmental Protection Agency. IRIS (Integrated Risk Information System), Health Effects Assessment Summary Tables, Washington DC: USEPA, 1993Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    A summary of ground application studies. AgDRAFT ®, Spray Drift Task Force. Available at http://www.agdrift.com/PDF FILES/ground.pdfGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Beyer A., Mackay D., Matthies M., Wania F., Webster E. Assessing long-range transport potential of persistent organic pollutants. Environ Sci Technol, 1999; 34:699–703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Decisioneering. Crystal Ball 4.0 User Manual. Denver, CO: Decisioneering Inc., 1996Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yun Zhou
    • 1
  • William Kastenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nuclear EngineeringUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations