3 October 2015
As part of an environmental risk assessment, the potential impact of genetically modified (GM) maize MON 87411 on non-target arthropods (NTAs) was evaluated in the field. MON 87411 confers resistance to corn rootworm (CRW; Diabrotica spp.) by expressing an insecticidal double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) transcript and the Cry3Bb1 protein and tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate by producing the CP4 EPSPS protein. Field trials were conducted at 14 sites providing high geographic and environmental diversity within maize production areas from three geographic regions including the U.S., Argentina, and Brazil. MON 87411, the conventional control, and four commercial conventional reference hybrids were evaluated for NTA abundance and damage. Twenty arthropod taxa met minimum abundance criteria for valid statistical analysis. Nine of these taxa occurred in at least two of the three regions and in at least four sites across regions. These nine taxa included: aphid, predatory earwig, lacewing, ladybird beetle, leafhopper, minute pirate bug, parasitic wasp, sap beetle, and spider. In addition to wide regional distribution, these taxa encompass the ecological functions of herbivores, predators and parasitoids in maize agro-ecosystems. Thus, the nine arthropods may serve as representative taxa of maize agro-ecosystems, and thereby support that analysis of relevant data generated in one region can be transportable for the risk assessment of the same or similar GM crop products in another region. Across the 20 taxa analyzed, no statistically significant differences in abundance were detected between MON 87411 and the conventional control for 123 of the 128 individual-site comparisons (96.1 %). For the nine widely distributed taxa, no statistically significant differences in abundance were detected between MON 87411 and the conventional control. Furthermore, no statistically significant differences were detected between MON 87411 and the conventional control for 53 out of 56 individual-site comparisons (94.6 %) of NTA pest damage to the crop. In each case where a significant difference was observed in arthropod abundance or damage, the mean value for MON 87411 was within the reference range and/or the difference was not consistently observed across collection methods and/or sites. Thus, the differences were not representative of an adverse effect unfamiliar to maize and/or were not indicative of a consistent plant response associated with the GM traits. Results from this study support a conclusion of no adverse environmental impact of MON 87411 on NTAs compared to conventional maize and demonstrate the utility of relevant transportable data across regions for the ERA of GM crops.