Science-based risk assessment for nontarget effects of transgenic crops

David A. Andow, Angelika Hilbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Nontarget risk assessment for transgenic crops should be case specific, depending on the plant, the transgene, and the intended release environment. We propose an ecological risk-assessment model that preserves the strengths and avoids the deficiencies of two other commonly used models, the ecotoxicology and nonindigenous-species models. In this model, locally occurring nontarget species are classified into groups according to their ecological function. Within each group, ecological criteria are used to select the species that are most likely to be affected by the transgenic crop. Initial experimental assessments are conducted in the laboratory and consist of two kinds of test: toxicity tests using purified transgene product, and whole-plant tests using intact transgenic plants. For nontarget natural enemy species, it will also be important to evaluate both direct bitrophic impacts and indirect tritrophic impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-649
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Ecotoxicology
  • Nonindigenous species
  • Nontarget effects
  • Risk assessment
  • Transgenic plants


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