Genetically Modified Crops
Effects on Bees and Pollination
Genetic modification (GM) of crops has been accompanied by concerns of environmental impact, including effects to beneficial organisms such as bees. Currently, most commercial GM crops are modified for pest and/or herbicide resistance. Transgenes such as Bt may be expressed in pollen, resulting in exposure to bees. However, studies to date indicate that crops transformed with genes coding for Bt proteins will not harm bees. Herbicide resistant crops are not likely to pose direct toxicity effects to bees; yet, greater weed control in herbicide resistant crops may be responsible for a lower bee abundance in these crops than non-transformed crops. Reduced pesticide use associated with insect resistant GM crops, and reduced tillage that is possible with herbicide tolerant crops, could be beneficial to bee populations compared to conventional agriculture. Risk of GM crops to bees should be assessed on a case-by-case basis in relation to feasible alternatives.
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