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Scientists call for more access to biotech crop data
Date:4/24/2008

Biologists call for making available more detailed maps of the locations of biotech crops.

Access to maps of biotech crops on a county and township level will give researchers greater ability to analyze the effects of biotech crops on wildlife, water quality, and on pest and beneficial insects.

"Since 1996 more than a billion acres have been planted with biotech crops in the U.S.," said Michelle Marvier of Santa Clara University in Calif. "We don't really know what are the pros and cons of this important new agricultural technology."

"People on both sides of the debate about genetically engineered crops have been making a lot of claims," said Marvier, an associate professor of biology and environmental studies. "One side has been saying that biotech crops reduce insecticide use, reduce tillage and therefore the erosion of top soil. People on the other side say that biotech crops could hurt native species."

The scientists' call will be published as a Policy Forum in the April 25, 2008, issue of the journal Science. Marvier's co-authors are Yves Carrire and Bruce Tabashnik of The University of Arizona in Tucson; Norman Ellstrand of the University of California at Riverside; Paul Gepts of the University of California at Davis; Peter Kareiva of Santa Clara University and The Nature Conservancy; Emma Rosi-Marshall of Loyola University in Chicago; and L. LaReesa Wolfenbarger of the University of Nebraska in Omaha.

The article, Harvesting Data from Genetically Engineered Crops, has a map showing the distribution of crop fields in Arizona township by township.

Tabashnik, UA head and professor of entomology, said, "Putting Arizona's biotech cotton on the map has allowed us to be a leader in assessing the environmental impacts of biotech crops."

In Arizona, a unique collaboration between researchers and farmers has made detailed crop data available to researchers at The University of Arizona.


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Contact: Mari N. Jensen
mnjensen@email.arizona.edu
520-626-9635
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert  

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