over current pest control methods. With careful planning and appropriate regulatory oversight, commercial cultivation of transgenic pest-protected plants is not generally expected to pose higher risks and may pose less risk than other commonly used chemical and biological pest-management techniques. The committee concludes that
A major goal for further research and development of transgenic and conventional pest-protected plants should be to enhance agricultural productivity in ways that also foster more sustainable agricultural practices and enhance the preservation of biodiversity, and decrease the potential for health problems that could be associated with some types of pest-protected plants.
To expand on the general principles outlined above, NRC published a more detailed report on how genetically modified plants and microorganisms should be regulated for small-scale, experimental field tests (NRC 1989). The recommendations proved useful and remain well-founded with regard to how federal agencies regulate field testing of genetically engineered organisms. One important and widely accepted conclusion of the 1989 report is that genetically engineered organisms should be evaluated case by case. The report also describes many of the same issues that apply to large-scale introductions, such as the potential to create weeds or insects that are resistant to Bt insecticides. However, because the 1989 report did not directly address health or environmental risks associated with commercialization, it has limited utility for providing guidelines for regulation of transgenic pest-protected plants.
Use of genetically controlled pest-protected germplasm for pest management is widely perceived as providing a number of benefits. First, crop losses or damage can be eliminated or minimized resulting in improvement of both yield and quality. Second, resistant germplasm constitutes a low-input option for pest management that often reduces the need for chemical pesticides and their associated financial costs. Third, by reducing the use of traditional pesticides, pest-protected plants can increase the safety of the food supply and reduce environmental impacts. An example of reduced pesticide use and costs as a direct result of planting conventional pest-protected crops is the case of winter wheat bred for resistance to eyespot disease caused by the fungus Pseudocercosporella