transgenic pest-protected plant: refers to any plant that has been genetically modified with modern molecular techniques (rDNA technology, commonly referred to as genetic engineering) to express a pesticidal trait;
conventional pest-protected plant: refers to any plant that has been genetically modified by classical or cellular plant breeding techniques (such as hybridization or tissue culture) to express a pesticidal trait.
For completeness, the committee notes that many plants have evolved a natural protection against pests without any type of genetic modification done by humans. This report refers to those plants as naturally pest-protected plants.
As the first assigned task, the committee reviewed the 1987 NAS white paper, Introduction of Recombinant DNA-Engineered Organisms into the Environment: Key Issues. The 1987 paper focused on the safety of rDNA techniques and on ecological issues associated with the potential spread of transgenic organisms or genes associated with transgenic organisms, and it provided the following conclusions:
point 1 “There is no evidence that unique hazards exist either in the use of rDNA techniques or in the movement of genes between unrelated organisms.”
point 2 “The risks associated with the introduction of rDNA-engineered organisms are the same in kind as those associated with the introduction of unmodified organisms and organisms modified by other methods.”
point 3 “Assessment of the risks of introducing rDNA-engineered organisms into the environment should be based on the nature of the organism and the environment into which it is introduced, not on the method by which it was produced.”
The committee discussed the above principles in light of its knowledge of the underlying scientific processes involved in conventional and transgenic methods. It is important to point out that the committee is not aware of controlled field studies which directly compare the ecological effects of transgenic and conventional pest-protected plants bred for the same pesticidal traits. Therefore, the committee 's conclusions about the 1987 NAS principles are not based on data from such comparisons, but on mechanistic knowledge and scientific information about the resulting genetically modified plants. For example, conventional breeding often in-