David N. Cassuto, Drew Levinson


As of 2014, genetically modified crops occupied 448 million acres globally, representing a global market value of 15.7 billion dollars. The United States planted 170 million acres of genetically engineered crops in 2012, including 95% of the nation's sugar beets, 94% of the soybeans, 90% of the cotton and 88% of the feed corn. While many argue that biotechnology is essential to ensuring long-term food security in the climate change era, little is known of its impact on ecosystems.  Potential risks such as changes in adaptive characteristics, gene flow, pest resistance, genotypic or phenotypic instability and adverse effects on non-target organisms must be balanced with the benefits of genetically modified crops. Despite much perseveration about the risks and benefits of GMOs, the United States regulatory regime has remained stagnant, unable to adapt to new innovations in the field. This lack of adequate oversight cannot go on. We propose shifting responsibility to a single agency charged with implementing science-based regulations that embrace the precautionary principle and promote early collaboration among stakeholders, multidisciplinary research, and well-designed monitoring. Part I of this Article provides an overview of biotechnology in modern agriculture.  More specifically, it evaluates potential benefits and risks associated with genetically modified crops. Part II outlines the United States regulatory regime as it applies to genetically modified crops.  Part III analyzes the current regulatory process, focusing specifically on the Department of Agriculture’s ineffective role in the environmental review process. Last, Part IV offers several potential adjustments to improve our ability to identify and mitigate the unforeseeable consequences of implementing this revolutionary technology. 


Genetically modified crops; Genetically modified organisms; Environmental Impacts.

Texto completo:



AGAPITO-TENFEN, Sara Zanon; et. al. Effect of Stacking Insecticidal Cry and Herbicide Tolerance epsps Transgenes on Transgenic Maize Proteome, BMC Plant Biology, v. 14, n. 1, 2014. Available at

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ‘Super Banana’ Could Save Millions in Africa, TeLegraPh, June 16, 2014. Available at: Super-banana-could-save-millions-in-Africa.html.

BAILEy, Pat. Genetically Engineered Tomato Plant Grows in Salty Water. UC Davis, July 25, 2001. Available at: [https://perma. cc/X895-2FFM].

BALBOA, Maria Gabriela. Legal Framework to Secure the Benefits While Controlling the Risks of Genetically Modified Foods: A Comparison of the Cartagena Protocol and Three National Approaches, Temp. J. Sci. Tech. & envtl. v. 31, 2012.

BENBROOk, Charles M. Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the U.S. – The First Sixteen Years, envtl. Sci. europe, v. 24, 2012, p. 1, 7-8. Available at http://www.

BIELLO, David. Coming to a Cornfield Near You: Genetically Induced Drought-Resistance, Sci. american, May 13, 2011. Available at: [].

BRITANNICA DICTIONARY. Genetically Modified Organisms. Available at: http://www. BRONNER, David. Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Skyrocketing While Pro-GMO Media Run Interference, Huffington Post, Sept. 15, 2014, 10:00 am. Available at: http://www.

BROOkES, Graham; BARFOOT, Peter. Environmental Impacts of Genetically Modified Crop Use 1996–2013: Impacts on Pesticide Use and Carbon Emissions. gM Crops & Food, v. 6, 2015, p. 103, 105. Available at []

CARRIèRE, Yves; et al. Long-term Regional Suppression of Pink Bollworm by Bacillus thuringiensis Cotton, 100 pNAS 1519, 2003, p. 1521-1523. Available at content/100/4/1519.full.pdf [].

CONNER, Anthony J. et. al. The Release of Genetically Modified Crops into the Environment, Plant J., v. 33, 2003, p. 19, 34. Available at:

FAURE, Michael; WIBISANA, Andri, Liability for Damage Caused by Gmos: An Economic Perspective, geo. Int’l envtl. L. rev. v. 23, n. 1, 2010.

FERNANDEz-CORNEjO, jorge; et al., U.S. Dep’t of Agric., ERR-162, genetically engineered Crops in the United States 1, 2014, available at err162.pdf [hereinafter “USDa RepoRt”].

FERNANDEz-CORNEjO, Jorge; MCBRIDE, William D. genetically engineered Crops for Pest Management in U.S. Agriculture: Farm-Level Effects 1, USDA, AER-786, 2000, available at

FOOD & AGRIC. ORG. OF THE U.N. GlobAl huNGer DecliNiNG, buT STill uNAccepTAbly hiGh 1, 2010. Available at

FOOD & AGRIC. ORG. OF THE U.N. The State of Food and agriculture 18, 2004. available at

FOOD & AGRIC. ORG. OF THE UNITED NATIONS. Status of Research and Application of Crop Biotechnologies. Developing Countries, 2005, available at y5800e/y5800e06.htm [hereinafter “Fao RepoRt”].

FREEDMAN, David H. The Truth About Genetically Modified Food. Sci. american, Sept. 1, 2013. Available at: [].

GILBERT, Natasha. Case Studies: A Hard Look at GM Crops, NATure, v. 497, 2013, p. 24, 24-26. Available at

GILLIS, Justin, Biotech Firm Mishandled Corn in Iowa, Wash. Post, Nov. 14, 2002. Available at:

GM BANANAS: From Nutrition to Disease Resistant, Fresh Fruit, Aug. 23, 2013. Available at:

HAMMER, karl; TEkLU, Yifru. Plant Genetic Resources: Selected Issues from Genetic Erosion to Genetic Engineering, J. agric. & rural Dev. in the Tropics & Subtropics, v. 109, 2008, p. 15, 15-16. Available at

HECkMAN, Christopher. Tying its Own Hands: APHIS’s Inability to Regulate Genetically Modified Crops. ecology L.Q. v. 41, 2014.

HUTCHINSON, William D., et al. Area-wide Suppression of European Corn Borer with BT Maize Reaps Savings to Non-Bt Maize Growers, Sci., v. 330, 2010, p. 222, 224-225. Available at http:// [].

ISaaa, Bt Insect resistant Technology 1, 2015. Available at publications/pocketk/6/default.asp [].

kLüMPER, Wilhelm; QAIM, Matin. A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops, ploS oNe, v. 9, 2014, p. 1, 4. Available at asset?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0111629.PDF [].

kUNICH, John Charles. Mother Frankenstein, Doctor Nature, and the Environmental Law of Genetic Engineering, S. cAl. l. rev. v. 74, 2001.

LATHAM, jonathan R.; et. al., The Mutational Consequences of Plant Transformation, 2006 J. Biomedicine & Biotechnology, v. 1, n. 1, 2006.

LEE-MURAMOTO, Maria R., Reforming the “Uncoordinated” Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology, DrAke J. AGric. v. 17, 2012.

MANDEL, Gregory N., Gaps, Inexperience, Inconsistencies, and Overlaps: Crisis in the Regulation of Genetically Modified Plants and Animals, Wm. & mAry l. rev. v. 45, 2004.

MANDEL, Gregory N., Toward Rational Regulation of Genetically Modified Food, 4 SANTA clArA J. iNT’l l. v. 21, 2006.

MARRAPESE, Matha E.; kRASNY, Leslie T., addressing the Complexities of regulatory Schemes for GMOs and Products Derived from Them, aSpatoRe 2014 WL 7247056, 2014.

MEET THE ‘SUPER BANANA’ – A Vitamin – Enriched Upgrade that Could Save Lives. The guardian, June 17, 2014, 10:24 pm. Available at: shortcuts/2014/jun/17/super-banana-vitamin-enriched-upgrade.

MONTGOMERY, Emily. Genetically Modified Plants and Regulatory Loopholes and Weaknesses Under the Plant Protection Act, Vt. L. rev. v. 37, 2012.

MORIN, Monte. Creating a ‘Genetic Firewall’ for GMOs, L.a. Times, jan. 21, 2015, 3:18 pm. Available at:

NATIONAL HUMAN GENOME RESEARCH INSTITUTE. genetic engineering. Available at: (last visited Aug. 5, 2015).

PETERSON, Garry et al. The Risks and Benefits of Genetically Modified Crops: A Multidisciplinary Perspective. Conservation ecology, v. 4, 2000, p. 13. Available at vol4/iss1/art13/

POLLACk, Andrew. By ‘Editing’ Plant Genes, Companies Avoid Regulation, NY Times, Jan. 2, 2015. Available at

PORTER, john R., et al. 2014: Food Security and Food Production Systems, in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, p. 485, 494 (Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014). Available at

QUE, Qiudeng, et al. Trait Stacking in Transgenic Crops: Challenges and Opportunities, 1 Gm cropS 220, 220 (2010), available at gmcr.1.4.13439 [].

SNOW, A. A.; et al., Ecological Society of America, Genetically Engineered Organisms and the Environment: Current Status and Recommendations, ecological applications, v. 15, 2005.

TENG, Paul P.S. et al. Impact of Climate Change on Food Production: Options for Importing Countries, 2015. Available at PB150529_Impact-of-Climate-Change-on-Food-Production.pdf.

UN. Biosafety resource Book 1, 2011, available at [hereinafter “FAO Biosafety Resource Book”]. USDA, recent Trends in ge adoption, adoption of genetically engineered Crops in the U.S., July 9, 2015. Available at: [https://perma. cc/54TY-8kWL].

VERMA, Smita Rastogi, Genetically Modified Plants: Public and Scientific Perception, 2013. Int’l Scholarly research Notices: Biotechnology, 2013, p. 1, 3-6. Available at http://www.

WALTZ Emily. Gene-edited CRISPR Mushroom Escapes US Regulation, Nature, v. 532, 2016, p. 293. Available at

WEED Resistance by Country and Site Action, Int’l Survey of herbicide resistant Weeds, May 9, 2016. Available at:

WEISE, Elizabeth. Genetically Modified Crops had Bumper Year in 2001. uSA ToDAy, Feb. 8, 2012. Available at:

WILSON, julie. Experimental GMO Crops Sprouting Up Across America, while USDA, the Overseeing Agency, Takes ‘Industry-Friendly Approach,’ Natural News, Apr. 1, 2016. Available at:

ZHANG, Hong-Xia; BLUMWALD, Eduardo. Transgenic Salt-tolerant Tomato Plants Accumulate Salt in Foliage but not in Fruit, Nature Biotechnology, v. 19, 2001.


eISSN: 2175-0491

Este portal é licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons Atribuição-CompartilhaIgual 4.0 Internacional.