Soil Ecology and Research Group

last update October 7, 2001

 

The risks of genetically engineered crops.


Abstract

The current worldwide controversy over genetically engineered crops and microorganisms has become increasingly violent. Like most environmental controversies it involves complex and poorly understood science and economics, widely differing cultural values, and increasing polarization between industry's Panglossian view that "this is the best of all possible technologies with virtually no risks", and the Doomsayers view that "this is the worst of all possible technologies with catastrophic risks." No one knows who is correct - the research has not been done despite the very rapid increase in the acreage of GE crops in the U.S. The ecological, economic, and health risks of these crops remain poorly understood and little studied. Ecologists have been long been concerned about a range of possible problems including: the evolution of resistant pests, risks to non-target organisms, creation of super pests by hybridization or gene transfer, and changes in farm management with attendant ecological consequences and doctors are increasingly concerned about possible health effects.