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Agricultural Biotechnology: History, Science, and Society (October 2013): Environmental Concerns

By Brian R. Shmaefsky

Environmental Concerns

Unfortunately, the use of agricultural biotechnology and the use of biotechnology in IPM present potentially harmful environmental effects.  The biological control features that are genetically modified into plants may be toxic to humans and wildlife.  Plus, the genes from the genetically modified plants can create a type of genetic pollution in which the novel gene could be transferred to wild plants.  This in effect can disrupt ecosystem interactions and kill off beneficial organisms.

The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Agbiotech: A Global Perspective, edited by Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, provides a good overview of the issues.  Sheldon Krimsky and Roger Wrubel focus on specific environmental concerns related to possible pollutants from agricultural biotechnology in their book, Agricultural Biotechnology and the Environment: Science, Policy, and Social Issues.

Other useful books describing the major public health and environmental risks of biotechnology plants used in agriculture include Genetically Engineered Organisms: Assessing Environmental and Human Health Effects, edited by Deborah Letourneau and Beth Burrows; Genetically Modified Planet: Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Plants by C. Neal Stewart Jr.; Seeds for the Future: The Impact of Genetically Modified Crops on the Environment by Jennifer Thomson; and Environmental Safety of Genetically Engineered Crops, edited by Rebecca Grumet et al.