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Impact of genetically modified organisms on aquatic environments: Review of available data for the risk assessment

Pott, Antonia, Otto, Mathias, Schulz, Ralf
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.635 pp. 687-698
agricultural land, agrochemicals, aquatic environment, aquatic habitat, crop residues, crops, genetically modified plants, risk assessment, toxins
The aquatic environment is strongly connected to the surrounding agricultural landscapes, which regularly serve as sources of stressors such as agrochemicals. Genetically modified crops, which are cultivated on a large scale in many countries, may also act as stressors. Despite the commercial use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for over 20years, their impact on the aquatic environment came into focus only 10years ago. We present the status quo of the available scientific data in order to provide an input for informed aquatic risk assessment of GMOs. We could identify only 39 publications, including 84 studies, dealing with GMOs in the aquatic environment, and our analysis shows substantial knowledge gaps. The available information is restricted to a small number of crop plants, traits, events, and test organisms. The analysis of effect studies reveals that only a narrow range of organisms has been tested and that studies on combinatorial actions of stressors are virtually absent. The analysis of fate studies shows that many aspects, such as the fate of leached toxins, degradation of plant material, and distribution of crop residues in the aquatic habitat, are insufficiently investigated. Together with these research needs, we identify standardization of test methods as an issue of high priority, both for research and risk assessment needed for GMO regulation.