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Bundesamt für Naturschutz

BfN Schriften 277 - Potential effects of the introduction of a sugar beet variety resistant to glyphosate on agricultural practise and on the environment

Genetic engineering
The EU Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms (GMO) requires the assessment of environmental impacts of GMO including direct, indirect, immediate, and delayed effects on the environment. In the case of transgenic crops resistant to specific herbicides, this means that besides evaluating the environmental impacts of the genetically modified plant itself the environmental impacts of the specific herbicide programs and altered agricultural practices associated with this crop have to be assessed.
Gesine Schütte and Martha Mertens
Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Year of publication


The introduction of a new herbicide resistant variety can be connected with new agricultural practices. Changes in yields may also occur. Probable changes should be evaluated considering environmental issues such as preservation of biodiversity, soil conservation, pollution and climate change. Effects may be weighted according to their relative importance compared to other impacts and possible measures compromising negative effects.
Changes in herbicide use will unquestionably occur. The combinations of herbicides, amounts and numbers of applications will change. The ecological effects of herbicides on non-target organisms can be direct (toxicity) or indirect (e.g. effects on food chain through exclusion of wild plants and seed set). In addition, herbicide production and application predominantly cause abiotic effects which should be considered by life cycle assessments

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