Breckling, Broder and Reuter, Hauke ORCID: (2011) Up-scaling ecological effects of genetically modified plants in agriculture. Ecological Indicators, 11 (4). p. 935. DOI

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Before genetically modified plants are placed on the market, they are tested to anticipate adverse effects to human health and the environment. A notification and admission by the authorities is necessary. A science-based environmental impact assessment of genetically modified organisms requires the consideration of a large number of potential interactions on various scales. Eventual undesirable implications of the introduction of new, inheritable traits into a species’ gene pool need to be anticipated, because it may be difficult to retrieve transgenes after they were released. Commercialised transgenic plants are exposed in different regions, environments and agricultural contexts on a large scale. Covering the diversity of potential interactions in an anticipatory risk indication is a highly interdisciplinary task.

The contributions which are presented in this special issue expand the analytical and indicatory repertoire for GMO risk assessment. So far, risk research in transgenic plants has mainly concentrated on the lower levels of integration, starting on the level of molecular characterisation and detection. Field studies to assess population or ecosystem effects are a further step. To execute experiments on larger scales (landscapes and regions) is usually not feasible. However, to indicate risks and implications also on landscape and regional scale is of concern to avoid unintended long term and combinatory effects. To contribute to an improvement large scale assessments, the papers of this special issue present a coherent approach how to integrate knowledge on smaller scales, build scenarios and derive regional insight. The “up-scaling” of effects from the single plant level and the ecosystem level to regional implications involves ecological indication. It allows to identify regions, where particular processes concentrate or where combinatory effects have a higher probability. For such a regional investigation it is required to integrate contributions from ecology, statistics, geography, meteorology, agronomy and other disciplines, and bring together expertise from these fields in an interdisciplinary research team.

Such an approach was initially funded in the context of German Biosafety Research, by the German Ministry for education and research (BMBF), grant no. FKZ 0312637 A, B, C, and D. The approach was continued in the EU 6th Framework Programme under grant FP6-2002-SSP1 Contract no.: 502981 (SIGMEA) and was funded in part also from the Social Ecological Research (SÖF) of the BMBF under grant FKZ 07VPS14A-D. The funding is gratefully acknowledged. The results which are presented here were obtained for regions in Northern Germany focusing on oilseed rape as a major crop in this area. The approach is well transferable and gives an example how also other crops in other regions can be assessed on a regional scale. In the course of the work it turned out, that the secondary effects of oilseed rape are particular diverse and complex.

The compilation of this volume benefited a lot from the editorial support by various colleagues. We cordially thank them for critically reading and commenting the manuscripts.

We are convinced, that further integration of different scientific disciplines will have a considerable impact to enhance the assessment of GMO effect on large scales, which is currently still in a comparatively early stage of development. It requires additional efforts in research and development, and to inform and improve the regulatory process of admission.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Integrated Modelling > Spatial Ecology and Interactions
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 1470160X
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2019 15:40
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:29

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