The transgenic traits associated with the majority of commercial genetically modified crops are focused on improving herbicide and insecticide management practices. The use of the transgenic technology in these crops and the associated chemistry has been the basis of studies that provide evidence for occasional improvement in environmental benefits due to the use of less residual herbicides, more targeted pesticides, and reduced field traffic. This is nicely exemplified through studies using Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) assessments. Whilst EIQ evaluations may sometimes illustrate environmental benefits they have their limitations. EIQ evaluations are not a surrogate for Environmental Risk Assessments and may not reflect real environmental interactions between crops and the environment. Addressing the impact cultivated plants have on the environment generally attracts little public attention and research funding, but the introduction of GM has facilitated an expansion of research to address potential environmental concerns from government, NGOs, industry, consumers, and growers. In this commentary, some evidence from our own research and several key papers that highlight EIQ assessments of the impact crops are having on the environment are presented. This information may be useful as an education tool on the potential benefits of GM and conventional farming. In addition, other deliberate, accidental, and GM-driven benefits derived from the examination of GM cropping systems is briefly discussed.
Knox, OGG., Walker, RL., Booth, EJ., Hall, C., Crossan, AN., & Gupta, VVSR. (2012). Capitalizing on deliberate, accidental, and GM-driven environmental change caused by crop modification. Journal of Experimental Botany, 63(2), 543 - 549. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/err332