[Source: ScienceDaily] – More than one billion acres of biotech crops have been grown in the US, but their environmental impacts are not fully known. In Arizona, farmers share maps of biotech cotton fields with University of Arizona scientists, enabling detailed analyses of the effects of this technology. Now a team of biologists proposes that making similar maps of the entire US available to scientists will permit much-needed studies of the environmental impacts of genetically engineered crops.
Biologists call for making available more detailed maps of the locations of biotech crops. Access to maps of biotech crops on a county and township level will give researchers greater ability to analyze the effects of biotech crops on wildlife, water quality, and on pest and beneficial insects.
“Since 1996 more than a billion acres have been planted with biotech crops in the U.S.,” said Michelle Marvier of Santa Clara University in Calif. “We don’t really know what are the pros and cons of this important new agricultural technology.”
“People on both sides of the debate about genetically engineered crops have been making a lot of claims,” said Marvier, an associate professor of biology and environmental studies. “One side has been saying that biotech crops reduce insecticide use, reduce tillage and therefore the erosion of top soil. People on the other side say that biotech crops could hurt native species.”
The scientists’ call will be published as a Policy Forum in the April 25, 2008, issue of the journal Science. Marvier’s co-authors are Yves Carri