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Agricultural Biotechnology: Environmental Benefits for Identifiable Environmental Problems

November 2002

Citation: ELR 11312

Author: Drew L. Kershen

Agricultural biotechnology has generated much debate about the environmental consequences of field trials and commercialization of transgenic crops. Thus far, the debate has focused on opponents' claims of alleged risks presented by transgenic crops and the proponents' responses to those asserted risks.1 To date, three issues have dominated the debate:

. the risk of gene flow;

. the risk of weediness; and

. the risk of insect-resistance.2

When debates regarding the environmental consequences of agricultural biotechnology have addressed potential benefits, the discussions have largely concentrated on general issues, such as whether agricultural biotechnology will result in less pesticide use and whether agricultural biotechnology will protect a larger area of wildlife habitat from conversion to agricultural uses than other agronomic methods.3

Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law. (c) 2002, Drew L. Kershen, all rights reserved. This Article was presented to the 6th International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology Research, held in Ravello, Italy, July 11 through July 14, 2002. The author express his deep appreciation to the conference organizers for allowing him to present this Article to an international audience. He also thanks Dr. David R. Ledoux, Associate Professor (Animal Sciences) University of Missouri-Columbia; Dr. Alan Richardson, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Plant Industry Division, Australia; and Derek Smithee, Chief, Water Quality Programs Division, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, for their very helpful comments.