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Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 59; doi:10.3390/su9010059

Mass Releases of Genetically Modified Insects in Area-Wide Pest Control Programs and Their Impact on Organic Farmers

1
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, 24306 Plön, Germany
2
College of Law, University of Saskatchewan, S7N 5A6 Saskatoon, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 October 2016 / Accepted: 22 December 2016 / Published: 1 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and Gene Manipulation)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1590 KB, 4 January 2017; original version 1 January 2017]   |  

Abstract

The mass release of irradiated insects to reduce the size of agricultural pest populations of the same species has a more than 50-year record of success. Using these techniques, insect pests can be suppressed without necessarily dispersing chemical insecticides into the environment. Ongoing release programs include the suppression of medfly at numerous locations around the globe (e.g., California, Chile and Israel) and the pink bollworm eradication program across the southern USA and northern Mexico. These, and other successful area-wide programs, encompass a large number of diverse organic farms without incident. More recently, mass release techniques have been proposed that involve the release of genetically modified insects. Given that the intentional use of genetically modified organisms by farmers will in many jurisdictions preclude organic certification, this prohibits the deliberate use of this technology by organic farmers. However, mass releases of flying insects are not generally conducted by individual farmers but are done on a regional basis, often without the explicit consent of all situated farms (frequently under the auspices of government agencies or growers’ collectives). Consequently, there exists the realistic prospect of organic farms becoming involved in genetically modified insect releases as part of area-wide programs or experiments. Herein, we describe genetically modified insects engineered for mass release and examine their potential impacts on organic farmers, both intended and unintended. This is done both generally and also focusing on a hypothetical organic farm located near an approved experimental release of genetically modified (GM) diamondback moths in New York State (USA). View Full-Text
Keywords: organic certification; sterile insect technique; genetically modified insects; diamondback moth; Plutella xylostella; law; regulation; coexistence; GM-SIT; biotechnology organic certification; sterile insect technique; genetically modified insects; diamondback moth; Plutella xylostella; law; regulation; coexistence; GM-SIT; biotechnology
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Reeves, R.G.; Phillipson, M. Mass Releases of Genetically Modified Insects in Area-Wide Pest Control Programs and Their Impact on Organic Farmers. Sustainability 2017, 9, 59.

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