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Abundance of flying insects during growing season in genetically modified and conventional maize

Rönnqvist, Ida (2018) BIOK01 20172
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
Genetically modified maize, can it be trusted?

In a world with a constantly growing population there is a need to find a way to cultivate enough food for everyone and one of the things that might help with that is genetically modified crops. Genetic modification means that a trait has been given to a plant that it does not normally have. These traits can be resistance to a pest, disease or an herbicide or it can be an enhanced nutritional value. All this can be really positive, for example, we can get more out of what we sow if insect pests are no longer a threat. But the problem is that there can be downsides to this as well. The GM-crops might affect other organisms than their target and that would mean a negative impact on the... (More)
Genetically modified maize, can it be trusted?

In a world with a constantly growing population there is a need to find a way to cultivate enough food for everyone and one of the things that might help with that is genetically modified crops. Genetic modification means that a trait has been given to a plant that it does not normally have. These traits can be resistance to a pest, disease or an herbicide or it can be an enhanced nutritional value. All this can be really positive, for example, we can get more out of what we sow if insect pests are no longer a threat. But the problem is that there can be downsides to this as well. The GM-crops might affect other organisms than their target and that would mean a negative impact on the ecosystem. In the EU there is a firm legislation on GM-crops and the only one allowed to be cultivated is maize (Zea mays) MON810. Although it is legal there is not a huge amount of genetically modified maize being cultivated, but it is increasing, in the EU as well as in Sweden. Genetically modified maize differs from conventional maize in that it has an inbuilt protection against the European corn borer (ECB) (Ostrinia nubilalis) which is the pest responsible for most damage done to maize cultivations. GM-maize has genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis which produces a toxin that is deadly for the ECB, this toxin is very specific and should only target the ECB but it could possibly target more than that, especially closely related butterfly and moth species.
That is why this study is done, to investigate whether that is the case or not, and it is done by analysing insect samples. In 2012, during the EU project AMIGA (Assessing and Monitoring Impacts of Genetically modified plants on Agro-ecosystems), insect samples were collected from conventional maize fields and from fields with MON810 GM-maize. The insects in these samples are counted and sorted into groups depending on taxonomic order. To see if there is a difference in abundance of insects between conventional maize and GM-maize tests are done using the statistical program R. The tests also check for a difference between the months July and September which is when the samples were collected.
The results in this study show no significant difference between the two types of crops but a significant difference between the months with July having a higher abundance than September. This means that genetically modified maize MON810 does not seem to have an impact on non-target organisms. So although this study was fairly small, which might affect the results, the results of this study does point at genetically modified maize MON810 being safe to use.


Bachelor’s degree project in biology 15 hp HT2017
Departement of biology, Lund University
Supervisor: Josef Berger and Tina D´Hertefeldt (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Rönnqvist, Ida
supervisor
organization
course
BIOK01 20172
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
language
English
id
8937931
date added to LUP
2018-03-22 15:14:37
date last changed
2018-03-22 15:14:37
@misc{8937931,
  author       = {Rönnqvist, Ida},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Abundance of flying insects during growing season in genetically modified and conventional maize},
  year         = {2018},
}