Advancing the ecological risk assessment on genetically engineered breeding stacks with combined insect resistance traits

Justin McDonald, Andrea Burns, Alan Raybould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

To inform the ecological risk assessment (ERA) of a transgenic crop with multiple insecticidal traits combined by conventional breeding (breeding stack), a comparative field study is customarily conducted to compare transgenic protein concentrations in a breeding stack to those in corresponding component single events used in the breeding process. This study tests the hypothesis that transgenic protein expression will not significantly increase due to stacking, such that existing margins of exposure erode to unacceptable levels. Corroboration of this hypothesis allows for the use of existing non-target organism (NTO) effects tests results, where doses were based on the estimated environmental concentrations determined for a component single event. Results from over 20 studies comparing expression profiles of insecticidal proteins produced by commercial events in various combinations of conventionally-bred stacks were examined to evaluate applying previously determined no-observed-effect concentrations (NOECs) to stack ERAs. This paper presents a large number of tests corroborating the hypothesis of no significant increase in insecticidal protein expression due to combination by conventional breeding, and much of the variation in protein expression is likely attributed to genetic and environmental factors. All transgenic protein concentrations were well within conservative margins between exposure and corresponding NOEC. This work supports the conclusion that protein expression data generated for single events and the conservative manner for setting NTO effects test concentrations allows for the transportability of existing NOECs to the ERA of conventionally-bred stacks, and that future tests of the stated hypothesis are no longer critically informative for ERA on breeding stacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalTransgenic Research
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ecological risk assessment
  • insecticidal proteins
  • transgenic
  • problem formulation
  • breeding stacks


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