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Symposia on the Environment and Food

Contributions of Chemistry to Sustainable Food Production

Freie Universitat Berlin, August 1999
Thursday August 12, 9:00 - 13:00
Inorganic Chemistry Lecture Hall

Transgenic Crops: Impact on the Use of Agrochemicals and the Environment
Harry A. Kuiper, State Institute for Quality Control of Agricultural Products (RIKILT-DLO), Bornsesteeg 45, P.O.Box 230, NL-6700 AE Wageningen, THE NETHERLANDS, Email: [email protected]

Cultivation of transgenic crops produced has impressively increased over the last 3 years from 2.8 million hectares in 1996 to 27.8 million hectares in 1998, with a potential for further increase of at least 5-7 times. In 1998 most important transgenic crops cultivated were: herbicide tolerant soybean, Bt corn, insect resistant/herbicide tolerant cotton, herbicide tolerant canola and herbicide tolerant corn.

The potential agronomical and environmental advantages upon introduction of transgenic crops will be discussed based on experiences gained by farmers in 1996-1998. Yield increases, replacement of persistent herbicides, reduction in the use of herbicides and insecticides have been noted, as well as an improvement in the flexibility of crop mangement systems. Potential disadvantages of the cultivation of transgenic crops will be discussed like an increased dependence on chemical crop protection methods, risks and consequences of the development of resistance in weeds or target insects, and a negative impact on non-target species. Experience with large-scale breeding of transgenic crops and its long-term impact on agricultural production practises and the environment is still fragmentary and needs further consideration. Specific monitoring programs and codes of practises should provide the information to assess these hazards.

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