Transgenic Crops to Preserve Biodiversity

  • Chandrakanth EmaniEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 4)


The rapidly expanding field of commercial transgenic cultivation has its greatest concern related to environmental well being as transgenic crops are seen as a threat to the biodiversity in the agricultural fields. Since transgenic technology is continuing to witness a rapid growth in terms of developing novel varieties, it is imperative to examine whether the developed varieties contribute to preserving biodiversity. Further, it is also necessary to focus future research towards developing transgenic varieties to contribute to preserving and enhancing the biodiversity. The present review aims to present an overview of the current status of transgenic technology in contributing to biodiversity and suggest future research strategies enabling the preservation of biodiversity.


Crop biodiversity Transgenic crops Speciation Non-target species 


  1. Ammann K (2005) Effects of biotechnology on biodiversity: herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant GM crops. Trends Biotechnol 23:388–394PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA (2007) Introduction of genetically engineered organisms: draft programmatic environmental impact statement—July. Accessed 4 May 2014
  3. Bambawale O, Singh A, Sharma O et al (2004) Performance of Bt cotton (MECH-162) under integrated pest management in farmers’ participatory field trial in Nanded district, central India. Curr Sci 86:1628–1633Google Scholar
  4. Barbosa P (1998) Conservation biological control. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  5. Barta P (2007) Feeding billions, a grain at a time. The Wall Street Journal, p A1. Accessed 28 July 2007
  6. Behrens MR, Mutlu N, Chakraborty S, Dumitru R, Jiang WZ, et al (2007) Dicamba resistance: enlarging and preserving biotechnology-based weed management strategies. Science 316:1185–1188PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bellon MR, Berthaud J (2004) Transgenic maize and the evolution of landrace diversity in Mexico: the importance of farmers’ behavior. Plant Physiol 134:883–888PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Beyer P (2010) Golden rice and ‘golden’ crops for human nutrition. New Biotechnol 27:478-481PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bhattacharjee R (2009) Harnessing biotechnology for conservation and increased utilization of orphan crops. ATDF J 6:24–32Google Scholar
  10. Bindraban PS, Franke AC, Ferraro DO, Ghersa CM, Lotz LAP, Nepomuceno A et al (2009) GM-related sustainability: agro-ecological impacts, risk and opportunities of soy production in Argentina and Brazil. Plant Research International 2009. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, URGoogle Scholar
  11. Bowman DT, May OL, Creech JB (2003) Genetic uniformity of the US upland cotton crop since the introduction of transgenic cottons. Crop Sci 43:515–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Braun R, Ammann C (2003) Introduction: biodiversity—the impact of biotechnology. In: Ammann K, Jacot Y, Braun R (eds) Methods for risk assessment of transgenic plants. IV. Biodiversity and biotechnology. Birkhauser, Basel, pp vii–xvGoogle Scholar
  13. Brookes G, Yu TH, Tokgoz S, Elobeid A (2010) The production and price impact of biotech corn, canola andsoybean crops. AgBioForum 13:25–52Google Scholar
  14. Carpenter JE (2010) Peer-reviewed surveys indicate positive impact of commercialized GM crops. Nat Biotechnol 28(4):319–321PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Carpenter JE (2011) Impacts of GE crops on biodiversity. ISB News Report June 2011, p 4Google Scholar
  16. Carpenter A, Gianessi L (1999) Herbicide tolerant soybeans: why growers are adopting roundup ready varieties. AgBioForum 2:65–72Google Scholar
  17. Cattaneo M, Yafuso C, Schmidt C, Huang C et al (2006) Farm-scale evaluation of the impacts of transgenic cotton on biodiversity, pesticide use, and yield. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103:7571–7576PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Champion GT, May MJ, Bennett D, Brooks DR, Clark SJ, Daniels RE et al (2003) Crop management and agronomic context of the farm scale evaluations of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 358:1847–1862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chapman MA, Burke JM (2006) Letting the gene out of the bottle: the population genetics of genetically modified crops. New Phytol 170:429–443PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Conner AJ, Glare TR, Nap J-P (2003) The release of genetically modified crops into the environment: part II. Overview of ecological risk assessment. Plant J 33:19–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Convention of Biological Diversity (2000) Sustaining life on earth—April. Accessed 4 May 2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Darwin CR (1859) On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 1st edn. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Department Environment Food Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (2007) Environmental protection—genetic modification (GM)—farm scale evaluations. Accessed 4 May 2014
  24. Denby K, Gehring C (2005) Engineering drought and salinity stress tolerance in plants: lessons from genome-wide expression profiling in Arabidopsis. Trends Biotechnol 23:547–552PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. D’Hont A, Denoeud F, Aury JM, Baurens FC, Carreel F et al (2012) The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants. Nature 488:213–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Duan JJ, Marvier M, Huesing J et al (2008) A meta-analysis of effects of Bt crops on honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). PLoS ONE 3:e1415PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Ellstrand NC (2001) When transgenes wander, should we worry? Plant Physiol 125:1543–1545PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Ellstrand NC, Prentice HC, Hancock JF (1999) Gene flow and introgression from domesticated plants into their wild relatives. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 30:539–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Emani C, Garcia JM, Finch E-L et al (2003) Enhanced fungal resistance in transgenic cotton expressing an endochitinase gene from Trichoderma virens. Plant Biotechnol J 1:321–336PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Garcia MA, Altieri MA (2005) Transgenic crops: implications for biodiversity and sustainable agriculture. Bull Sci Tech Soc 25:335–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gardner SN, Gressel J, Mangel M (1998) A revolving dose strategy to delay the evolution of both quantitative vs major monogene resistances to pesticides and drugs. Int J Pest Manag 44:161–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gepts P (2004) Introduction of transgenic crops in centers of origin and domestication. In: Kleinman DL, Kinchy AJ, Handelsman J (eds) Controversies in science and technology: from maize to menopause. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp 119–134Google Scholar
  33. GM Compass (2009) Commercial GM crops in the EU in 2008. Accessed 18 April 2014
  34. Goff SA, Ricke D, Lan TH, Presting G, Wang R et al (2002) A draft sequence of the rice genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. japonica). Science 296:92–100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gressel J (2008) Genetic glass ceilings: transgenics for crop biodiversity. Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  36. Gressel J, Gardner S N, Mangel M (1996) Prevention vs. remediation in resistance management. In: Brown TM (ed), Molecular Genetics and Ecology of Pesticide Resistance (pp. 169–186). Washington, D.C.: American Chemical SocietyGoogle Scholar
  37. Groombridge B, Jenkins MD (2002) World atlas of biodiversity: earth’s living resources in 21st century. Prepared by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  38. Gurr GM, Wratten SD, Luna J (2003) Multi-function agricultural biodiversity: pest management and other benefits. Basic Appl Ecol 4:107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hancock JF (2003) A framework for assessing the risk of transgenic crops. BioScience 53:512–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hancock JF, Hokanson K (2001) Invasiveness of transgenic versus exotic plant species: how useful is the analogy? In: Strauss SH, Bradshaw HD (eds) The bioengineered forest: challenges for science and technology. RFF Press, Washington, DC, pp 181–189Google Scholar
  41. Herren HR (2003) Genetically engineered crops and sustainable agriculture. In: Amman K, Jocot Y, Braun R (eds) Methods for risk assessment of transgenic plants, IV. Biodiversity and biotechnology. Birkhauser, Basel, pp 54–76Google Scholar
  42. Hilbeck A (2001) Implications of transgenic, insecticideal plants for insect and plant biodiversity. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 4:43–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Huang J, Hu R, Fan C et al (2002) Bt cotton benefits, costs, and impacts in China. AgBioForum 5:153–166Google Scholar
  44. Huang J, Hu R, Rozelle S, Pray C (2005) Insect-resistant GM rice in farmers’ fields: assessing productivity and health effects in China. Science 308:688–690PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN): The World Conservation Union (2007) Current knowledge of the impact of genetically modified organisms on biodiversity and human health: an information paper. p 53Google Scholar
  46. Itoh K (2000) Occurrence of sulfonylurea resistant paddy weeds and their control. J Pestic Sci 25:281–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Jacobsen S, Sorensen M, Pedersen SM, Weiner J (2013) Feeding the world; genetically modified crops versus agricultural biodiversity. Agr Sus Dev 33:651–662Google Scholar
  48. Jain HK (2010) Green revolution: history, impact and future. Studium, HoustenGoogle Scholar
  49. James C (2003) Preview: global status of commercialized transgenic crops: 2002 (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application Brief No. 30). ISAAA, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  50. James C (2011) Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops:2011. ISAAA Brief No. 43. ISAAA, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  51. Kasuga M, Liu Q, Maiura S et al (1999) Improving plant drought, salt and freezing tolerance by gene transfer of a single stress-inducible transcription factor. Nat Biotech 17:287–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Krebs JR, Wilson JD, Bradbury RB, Siriwardena GM (1999) The second silent spring? Nature 400:611–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Krimsky S, Wrubel RP (1996) Agricultural biotechnology and the environment: science, policy and social issues. University of Illinois Press, UrbanaGoogle Scholar
  54. Kropiwnicka M (2005) Biotechnology and food security in developing countries: the case for strengthening international environmental regimes. ISYP J Sci World Affairs 1:45–60Google Scholar
  55. Kumar P, Gupta VK, Misra AK, Modi DR, Pandey BK (2009) Potential of molecular markers in plant biotechnology. Plant Omics J 2:141–162Google Scholar
  56. Lawson LG, Larsen AS, Pedersen SM, Gylling M (2009) Perceptions of genetically modified crops among Danish farmers. Acta Agr Scand C-F E 6(2):99–118Google Scholar
  57. Lemaux PG (2009) Genetically engineered plants and foods: a scientist’s analysis of issues (part II). Annu Rev Plant Biol 60:511–559PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Li YF, Zheng Y, Addo-Quaye C, Zhang L, Saini A et al (2010) Transcriptomewide identification of microRNA targets in rice. Plant J 62:742–759PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lorito M, Woo SL, Fernandez IG et al (1998) Genes from mycoparasitic fungi as a source for improving plant resistance to fungal pathogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95:7860–7865PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  60. Marvier M, McCreedy C, Regetz J, Kareiva P (2007) A meta-analysis of effects of Bt cotton and maize on nontarget invertebrates. Science 316:1475–1477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Nandula VK, Reddy KN, Duke SO, Poston DH (2005) Glyphosate-resistant weeds: current status and future outlook. Outlooks Pest Manag 16:183–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nelson P, Kiriakidou M, Sharma A, Maniataki E, Mourelatos Z (2003) The microRNA world: small is mighty. Trends Biochem Sci 28:534–540PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nickson TE (2008) Planning environmental risk assessment for genetically modified crops: problem formulation for stress tolerant crops. Plant Physiol 147:494–502PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  64. Organization for economic co-operation and development (OECD) policy brief (2005) Agricultural market impacts of future growth in the production of biofuels. /34711139.pdf. Accessed 4 May 2014
  65. Ossowski S, Schwab R, Weigel D (2008) Gene silencing in plants using artificial microRNAs and other small RNAs. Plant J 53:674–690PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Paterson AH, Bowers JE, Bruggmann R, Dubchak I, Grimwood J et al (2009) The Sorghum bicolor genome and the diversification of grasses. Nature 457:551–556PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pijut PM, Lawson SS, Michler CS (2011) Biotechnological efforts for preserving and enhancing temperate hardwood tree biodiversity, health, and productivity. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Plant 47:123–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pingali P, Raney T (2005) From the green revolution to the gene revolution: how will the poor fare? ESA working paper no. 05–09., p 17
  69. Pray CE, Huang J, Hu R, Rozelle S (2002) Five years of Bt cotton in China: the benefits continue. Plant J 31:423-430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Raven PH (2010) Does the use of transgenic plants diminish or promote biodiversity? Nat Biotechnol 27:528–533PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Raybould A, Cooper I (2005) Tiered tests to assess the environmental risk of fitness changes in hybrids between transgenic crops and wild relatives: the example of virus resistant Brassica napus. Environ Bio Res 4:127–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Romeis J, Bartsch D, Bigler F, Candolfi, MP et al (2008) Assessment of risk of insect-resistant transgenic crops to nontarget arthropods. Nat Biotech 26:203–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schiøler E, Pinstrup-Andersen P (2009) Seeds of contention. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  74. Schwab R, Ossowski S, Riester M, Warthmann N, Weigel D (2006) Highly specific gene silencing by artificial microRNAs in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 18:1121–1133PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  75. Sneller CH (2003) Impact of transgenic genotypes and subdivision on diversity within elite North American soybean germplasm. Crop Sci 43:409–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Trigo EJ, Cap EJ (2006) Ten years of genetically modified crops in argentine agriculture. ArgenBio, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  77. USDA (2007/2010) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Agricultural Statistics Board, US Department of Agriculture AcreageGoogle Scholar
  78. Van Buerren ETL, Backes G, de Vriend H, Ostergard H (2010) The role of molecular markers and marker assisted selection in breeding for organic agriculture. Euphytica 175:51–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Warthmann N, Chen H, Ossowski S, Weigel D, Herve P (2008) Highly specific gene silencing by artificial miRNAs in rice. PLoS ONE 3:e1829PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  80. Warwick S, Légère A, Imard M, James T (2008) Do escaped transgenes persist in nature? The case of an herbicide resistance transgene in a weedy Brassica rapa population. Mol Ecol 17:1387–1395PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Watkinson AR, Freckleton RP, Robinson RA, Sutherland WJ (2000) Predictions of biodiversity response to genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops. Science 289:1554–1557PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Watrud LS, Lee EH, Fairbrother A, Burdick C et al (2004) Evidence for landscape-level, pollen mediated gene flow from genetically modified creeping bentgrass with CP4 EPSPE as a marker. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101:14533–14538PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  83. White JW, McMaster GS, Edmeades GO (2004) Genomics and crop response to global change: what have we learned? Field Crops Res 90:165–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Whitehouse M, Wilson L, Fitt G (2005) A comparison of arthropod communities in transgenic Bt and conventional cotton in Australia. Environ Entomol 34:1224–1241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wolfenbarger LL, Naranjo SE, Lundgren JG et al (2008) Bt crop effects on functional guilds of non-target arthropods: a meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 3:e2118PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  86. Yu J, Hu S, Wang J, Wong GK, Li S et al (2002) A draft sequence of the rice genome (Oryza sativa L. ssp. indica). Science 296:79–92PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zhang L, Zheng Y, Jagadeeswaran G, Li Y, Gowdu K et al (2011) Identification and temporal expression analysis of conserved and novel microRNAs in Sorghum. Genomics 98:460–468PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Zhao J-Z, Cao J, Li Y, Collins Hl et al (2003) Transgenic plants expressing two Bacillus thuringenesis toxins delay insect resistance evolution. Nat Biotecnol 21:1493–1497CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyWestern Kentucky University-OwensboroOwensboroUSA

Personalised recommendations