New Breeding Technologies Bring Opportunities and Risks for Beneficials
Plants produced using bioengineering methods can simplify agricultural practices, increase yields, and reduce environmental pollution from chemical pesticides. For the sustainable use of these plants, side-effects, including those impacting on biodiversity, must be kept to a minimum.
Agroscope investigates the ecological effects of plants with new traits with a special emphasis on beneficials, and analyses how these plants could improve existing production systems. For this, we develop methods and explore interactions between plants, herbivores and beneficial arthropods in the laboratory, in the greenhouse, and outdoors on the Protected Site.
Agroscope is operating a protected field site at the location Reckenholz (Zurich) to enable field experiments with genetically modified plants in Switzerland. The aim of those experiments is to identify the potential and the limitations of green gene technology.
Suitable and relevant species must be selected for studies assessing the risk posed by GM plants, pesticides or biological control organisms for beneficials. We are currently developing a database to support the European arthropod species selection process.
Based on the findings of our research projects and the handling of genetically modified (GM) plants, we develop concepts and methods for the risk assessment of GM plants and take part in international expert committees.
The release of genetically modified insects with gene drives is a novel technology that is discussed as a potential tool for area-wide and sustainable control of pests, disease transmitting vectors, and invasive species. We investigate the possible environmental impact of the technology.
Opportunities and Risks of New Breeding Technologies for the Functional Biodiversity of Arthropods