Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 4, Iss. 1 > Art. 13 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
The Risks and Benefits of Genetically Modified Crops: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Garry D Peterson, McGill University
Saul Cunningham, CSIRO Entomology
Lisa Deutsch, Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University
Jon Erickson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Allyson Quinlan, Conservation Ecology
Ernesto RŠez-Luna, University of British Columbia
Robert Tinch, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Max Troell, Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Peter Woodbury, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
Scot Zens, Department of Biology, Dartmouth College


Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


The benefits and risks of any particular GM crop depend on the interactions of its ecological functions and natural history with the agroecosystem and ecosystems within which it is embedded. These evolutionary and ecological factors must be considered when assessing GM crops. We argue that the assessment of GM crops should be broadened to include alternative agricultural practices, ecosystem management, and agricultural policy. Such an assessment would be facilitated by a clearer understanding of the indirect costs of agriculture and the ecological services that support it. The benefits of GM crops should be compared to those of other means of agricultural intensification such as organic farming, integrated pest management, and agricultural policy reform. A gradual and cautious approach to the use of GM crops that relies on a truly comprehensive risk assessment could allow people to reap substantial benefits from GM crops while mitigating their serious risks.

Key words

agriculture, biotechnology, genetically modified crops (GM), interdisciplinary, public dialogue, regulation, risk assessment

Copyright © 2000 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087