Biodiv Sci ›› 2008, Vol. 16 ›› Issue (5): 426-436.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08159

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Commercialization of transgenic rice in China: potential environmental biosafety issues

Lu Bao-Rong1,*(), Fu Qiang2, Shen Zhicheng3   

  1. 1 Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Life Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
    2 Ministry of Agriculture Environmental Safety Supervision and Inspection Center for Genetically Modified Plants in Hangzhou, China National Rice Research Institute, Hangzhou 310006
    3 Institute of Insect Sciences and State Key Laboratory of Rice Biology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029
  • Received:2008-07-15 Accepted:2008-08-25 Online:2008-09-20 Published:2008-09-20
  • Contact: Lu Bao-Rong


The development and commercialization of transgenic rice with novel traits in China may offer more opportunities for promoting rice productivity. Owing to the significance of rice as a major food crop in China, the enhancement of rice production is important for national food security. If left unaddressed, the potential biosafety concerns over the extensive release and commercial cultivation of transgenic rice may hamper the development and application of this technology in rice improvement. Biosafety issues include: (1) effects of toxic transgenes on non-target organisms; (2) transgene escape to crops or wild relatives through gene flow and its potential ecological consequences; (3) interactions and influences of transgenes and transgenic plants on biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and soil microbes; and (4) the development of resistance to insect- or disease-resistant transgenes in target organisms. In order to safely and sustainably utilize transgenic biotechnology in rice, it is very important to assess biosafety consequences, including environmental risks, from transgenic rice. This paper presents a rational analysis of potential environmental biosafety problems based on the principles of risk assessment, provided that transgenic rice will be released for commercialization. We hope these analyses will provide useful information for the decision-making on commercialization of transgenic rice and serve as a framework for the assessment of relevant environmental biosafety risks.

Key words: transgenic rice, ecological risk, non-target organism, gene flow, biodiversity, soil microbe, resistance evolution