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Mitigation of indirect environmental effects of GM crops

Record type: Article

Currently, the UK has no procedure for the approval of novel agricultural practices that is based on environmental risk management principles. Here, we make a first application of the ‘bow-tie’ risk management approach in agriculture, for assessment of land use changes, in a case study of the introduction of genetically modified herbicide tolerant (GMHT) sugar beet. There are agronomic and economic benefits, but indirect environmental harm from increased weed control is a hazard. The Farm Scale Evaluation (FSE) trials demonstrated reduced broad-leaved weed biomass and seed production at the field scale. The simplest mitigation measure is to leave a proportion of rows unsprayed in each GMHT crop field. Our calculations, based on FSE data, show that a maximum of 2% of field area left unsprayed is required to mitigate weed seed production and 4% to mitigate weed biomass production. Tilled margin effects could simply be mitigated by increasing the margin width from 0.5 to 1.5m. Such changes are cheap and simple to implement in farming practices. This case study demonstrates the usefulness of the bow-tie risk management approach and the transparency with which hazards can be addressed. If adopted generally, it would help to enable agriculture to adopt new practices with due environmental precaution.

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Citation

Pidgeon, J.D., May, M.J., Perry, J.N. and Poppy, G.M. (2007) Mitigation of indirect environmental effects of GM crops Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274, (1617), pp. 1475-1479. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0401).

More information

Published date: 22 June 2007

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 56495
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/56495
ISSN: 0962-8452
PURE UUID: 64ae772c-72db-4555-974d-b405c5cac6c4

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Date deposited: 11 Aug 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:30

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Contributors

Author: J.D. Pidgeon
Author: M.J. May
Author: J.N. Perry
Author: G.M. Poppy

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