Public Release: 

Risk assessment team on Bt plants wins Integrated Pest Management Award

Entomological Society of America

The NTA IPM team has significantly enhanced the environmental risk assessment of Bt crops, and they have developed research and outreach information needed by scientific and regulatory communities to understand potential risks and benefits of Bt crops to beneficial non-target arthropods.

Each year the Entomological Foundation presents an award to a collaborative work team, which includes at least one entomologist from the private sector and one from the public sector, who successfully contribute to pest-control efforts using Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

This year's Integrated Pest Management Team Award will be presented to the Risk Assessment of Bt Plants on Beneficial Non-target Arthropods (NTA) IPM Team, whose members include Jörg Romeis (Agroscope, Switzerland), Anthony M. Shelton (Cornell University), Steven E. Naranjo (USDA-ARS), Richard L. Hellmich (USDA-ARS), Morven A. McLean (Center for Environmental Risk Assessment, USA), Alan Raybould (Syngenta, UK), Marco P. Candolfi (Innovative Environmental Services, Switzerland), Jian J. Duan (USDA-ARS), Joseph E. Huesing (USAID/BFS), and Raymond J. Layton (Pioneer Hi-Bred, USA).

The NTA IPM team has significantly enhanced the environmental risk assessment of Bt crops. They have developed research and outreach information needed by scientific and regulatory communities to understand potential risks and benefits of Bt crops to beneficial non-target arthropods (NTA).

The team developed a science-based framework for assessing the potential risks by Bt proteins (and future insecticidal compounds) on beneficial NTAs, made a proposal on how to select surrogate species for laboratory toxicity studies, developed a guidance document on the design criteria for robust and reliable laboratory studies, and conducted non-target studies in the laboratory and in the field on a broad community of species.

Additionally, existing data sets from laboratory and field studies throughout the world were analyzed that showed currently used Bt crops do not cause any unexpected detrimental effects on predators or parasitoids or on the biological control function they provide. These analyses also helped to validate the tier-testing system used by various regulatory agencies.

In crops where the introduction of Bt-transgenic varieties results in significant reductions of insecticide applications, clear benefits on arthropod abundance in general, and natural enemies in particular, were found.

Bt crops have become a valuable component of IPM by contributing to natural enemy conservation while at the same time protecting the crops from targeted pests. Overall, the assessment and testing approaches developed by the team will enhance the robustness and rigor of risk assessment and thus increase the environmental safety of Bt crops and other novel transgenic crops in the future.

The year's Integrated Pest Management Team Award, which is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, will be presented to the team at Entomology 2013, the 61st Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, in Austin, TX this November.

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The Entomological Foundation is a national, not-for-profit organization made up of representatives from the public and private sectors, including academic institutions, government, and business and industry. Their mission is to build a future for entomology by educating young people about science through insects. For more information, please visit http://www.entfdn.org/index.php.

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