Environ. Biosafety Res.
Volume 9, Number 4, October-December 2010
|Page(s)||181 - 198|
|Published online||15 November 2011|
Developing risk hypotheses and selecting species for assessing non-target impacts of GM trees with novel traits: The case of altered-lignin pine trees
The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research
Limited (Plant & Food Research), Mt Albert, Private Bag 92169,
Auckland Mail Centre,
2 The New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited (Scion), Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua Mail Centre, Rotorua 3046, New Zealand
3 AgResearch, Invermay Agricultural Centre, Private Bag 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand
∗ Corresponding author:
A procedure is presented for developing environmental risk hypotheses associated with the deployment of forest trees genetically modified to have altered wood properties and for selecting non-target species to test these hypotheses. Altered-lignin Pinus radiata trees intended for use in New Zealand are used as a hypothetical case study to illustrate our approach. Firstly, environmental management goals (such as wood production, flood control or preservation of biodiversity) were identified and linked to the forest attributes they require. Necessary conditions for each attribute were listed and appropriate assessment endpoints for them developed. For example, biological control of pests may be one condition necessary for a forest to have healthy trees, and the diversity and abundance of natural enemy species in the forest could be an appropriate assessment endpoint for measuring this condition. A conceptual model describing the relationships between an altered-lignin GM pine tree and potentially affected invertebrates and micro-organisms in a plantation forest was used to develop a set of risk hypotheses describing how the GM trees might affect each assessment endpoint. Because purified lignin does not represent the properties it imparts to wood, maximum hazard dose tests with non-target organisms, as are used to inform toxin risk assessment, cannot be conducted. Alternative experiments, based on current knowledge of the responses of organisms to lignin, must be designed. A screening method was adapted and applied to a database of invertebrate species known to inhabit New Zealand pine forests to identify and prioritize non-target invertebrate species that could be used as experimental subjects for examining these hypotheses. The screening model and its application are presented, along with a set of recommendations for pre-release tests with GM pines and potentially affected invertebrates and micro-organisms.
Key words: genetically modified trees / altered lignin / non-target invertebrates / ecological risk assessment
© ISBR, EDP Sciences, 2011