and abundance (past and present), key factors that regulate weed population dynamics in managed and unmanaged areas, the likely impact of specific, novel resistance traits on weed abundance in managed and unmanaged areas, and rates at which resistance genes from the crop would be likely to spread among weed populations.

Because it is sometimes difficult to predict ecosystem level effects from small scale laboratory and field tests, longterm monitoring of pest-protected crops should be conducted after commercialization of these crops. EPA and USDA's Agriculture Research Service and Animal Health Plant and Inspection Service should encourage long-term monitoring for ecological impacts. Also, more rigorous field comparisons should be conducted to determine the relative impacts of conventional and transgenic pest-protected crops compared to impacts of standard and alternative agricultural practices on nontarget organisms.

Further studies are needed to determine the distances and densities of biologically active Bt corn pollen in the vicinity of a crop. More information is needed about the timing of pollen release, the types of insect species that would be harmed by ingesting pollen at observed concentrations, and the magnitude of mortality due to pollen versus other factors that limit nontarget populations.

3.5 RECOMMENDATIONS

  • EPA should provide guidelines for determining the most ecologically relevant test organisms and test procedures for assessing nontarget effects in specific cropping systems.

  • The USDA should require original data to support agency decision-making concerning transgenic crops when published data are insufficient.

  • In cases when crucial scientific data are lacking about the potential impacts of gene flow on wild or weedy relatives (for example, squash case study), the committee recommends delaying approval of deregulation pending sufficient data (for example, surveys from several years in several regions), establishing a scientifically rigorous monitoring program in key areas to check for undesirable effects of resistance transgenes after the transgenic pest-protected plant is commercialized, or restricting the initial areas where the plants can be grown.

  • USDA should research, publicize, and periodically revise lists of plant species with feral populations or wild relatives in the United States in order to evaluate the impacts of outcrossing.



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