Transgenic Research

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Six Years after the Commercial Introduction of Bt Maize in Spain: Field Evaluation, Impact and Future Prospects

  • Matilde Eizaguirre
  • Ramon AlbajesEmail author
  • Carmen López
  • Jordi Eras
  • Belén Lumbierres
  • Xavier Pons


We carried out a 6-year-field evaluation to assess potential hazards of growing Compa®, a transgenic Bt maize variety based on the transformation event CG 00256-176. Two categories of hazards were investigated: the potential of the target corn borer Sesamia nonagrioides to evolve resistance to Bt maize and effects on non-target organisms. In order to address the first hazard, dispersal capacity of the corn borer was measured and our results indicated that larvae move to plants other than those onto which the female oviposited – even to plants in adjacent rows – in remarkable numbers and they do so mostly at a mature age, suggesting that mixing Bt and non-Bt seeds in the same field would not be a very useful deployment strategy to delay/prevent resistance. In addition, adults move among fields to mate and males may do so for up to 400 m. Three different aspects of potential non-target effects were investigated: sub-lethal effects on the target S. nonagrioides, effects on non-target maize pests, and effects on maize-dwelling predators. Larvae collected in Bt fields at later growth stages, in which event 176 Bt maize expresses Bt toxin at sub-lethal concentrations, had longer diapause and post-diapause development than larvae collected in non-Bt fields, a feature that might lead to a certain isolation between populations in both type of fields and accelerate Bt resistance evolution. Transgenic maize did not have a negative impact on non-target pests in the field; more aphids and leafhoppers but similar numbers of cutworms and wireworms were counted in Bt versus non-Bt fields; in any case differences in damage or yield were recorded. We observed no difference in the numbers of the most relevant predators in fields containing transgenic or no transgenic maize.


Bt maize GMO non-target Sesamia transgenic 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Albajes, R, Eras, J, López, C, Ferran, X, Vigatà, J, Eizaguirre, M 2004Testing rubidium marking for measuring adult dispersal of the corn borer Sesamia nonagrioides: first resultsIOBC/WPRS Bull271522Google Scholar
  2. Anglade, P 1972 Les SésamiaBalachowsky, AS eds. Entomologie appliquée à l’agriculture, Tome II LepidoptèresMasson et Cie PressParis13891401Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous (2005) Resistant Pest Management: Arthropod Database. Consulted on June 23, 2005
  4. Asín, L, Pons, X 2001Effect of high temperature on the growth and reproduction of corn aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) and implications for their population dynamics on the northeastern Iberian PeninsulaEnviron Entomol3011271134Google Scholar
  5. Cannon, RJC 2000Bt transgenic crops: risks and benefitsInt Pest Manage Rev5151173Google Scholar
  6. Chaufaux, J, Seguin, M, Swanson, JJ, Bourget, D, Siegfried, BD 2001Chronic exposure of the European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) to CryIAb Bacillus thuringiensis toxinJ Econ Entomol9415641570PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Crawley, MJ 1999Bollworms, genes, and ecologistsNature400501502CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Dale, T, Buntin, GD 2005Effects of Bacillus thuringiensis corn for Lepidopteran control on nontarget arthropodsEnviron Entomol3412921301Google Scholar
  9. Dively, GP 2005Impact of transgenic VIP3A×Cry 1Ab Lepidopteran-resistant field corn on nontarget arthropod communityEnviron Entomol3412671291Google Scholar
  10. Dutton, A, Obrist, L, D’Alessandro, M, Diener, L, Müller, M, Romeis, J, Bigler, F 2004Tracking Bt-toxin in transgenic maize to assess the risks on non-target arthropodsIOBC/WPRS Bull275764Google Scholar
  11. Eizaguirre, M, López, C, Sans, A 2002Maize phenology influences field diapause induction of Sesamia nonagrioides (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)Bull Entomol Res92439443PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Eizaguirre, M, López, C, Albajes, R 2004Dispersal capacity in the Mediterranean corn borer, Sesamia nonagrioides (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)Entomol Exp Appl1132534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eizaguirre, M, López, C, Albajes, R 2005Sublethal effects of Bacillusthuringiensis on larval development in Sesamia nonagrioidesJ Econ Entomol98237247Google Scholar
  14. Eizaguirre, R, Albajes, R 1989Present situation of arthropod pests in maize in Northeast SpainActa Phytopathol Entomol Hung247780Google Scholar
  15. Farinós, GP, Poza, M, Hernández-Crespo, P, Ortego, F, Castañera, P 2004Resistance monitoring of field populations of the corn borers Sesamia nonagrioides and Ostrinia nubilalis after 5 years of Bt maize cultivation in SpainEntomol Exp Appl1102330Google Scholar
  16. Fearing, PL, Brown, D, Vlachos, D, Meghji, M, Privalle, L 1997Quantitative analysis of CryIA(b) expression in Bt maize plants, tissues, and silage and stability of expression over successive generationsMol Breeding3169176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gould, F 1998Sustainability of transgenic insecticidal cultivars: integrating pest genetics and ecologyAnnu Rev Entomol43701726CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gressel, J 2005Problems in qualifying and quantifying assumptions in plant protection models: resultant simulations can be mistaken by a factor of millionCrop Prot2410071015Google Scholar
  19. Groot, AT, Dicke, M 2002Insect-resistant transgenic plants in a multi-trophic contextPlant J31387406CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hanway, JJ 1966How a Corn Plant DevelopsIowa State University of Science and Technology Cooperative Extension ServicesAmes, IowaSpecial Report No. 48Google Scholar
  21. Head, G, Brown, CR, Groth, M, Duan, JJ 2001Cry1Ab protein levels in phytophagous insects feeding on transgenic corn: implications for secondary exposure risk assessmentEntomol Exp Appl993745CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hilbeck, A, Baumgartner, M, Fried, MF, Bigler, F 1998Effects of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis corn-fed prey on mortality and development time of immature Chrysoperla carnea (Nueroptera: Chrysopidae)Environ Entomol27480487Google Scholar
  23. James, C 2004Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2003ISAAA Briefs No. 32 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech ApplicationsIthaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  24. López, C, Eizaguirre, M, Albajes, R 1995Diapause detection and monitoring in the Mediterranean corn borerPhysiol Entomol20330336Google Scholar
  25. López, C, Eizaguirre, M, Albajes, R 2003Courtship and mating behaviour of the Mediterranean corn borer, Sesamia nonagrioides (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)Span J Agric Res14351Google Scholar
  26. López, C, Sans, A, Eizaguirre, M 1999Influencia de la planta de maíz en el apareamiento de Sesamia nonagrioides Lefèbvre (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)Invest Agr Prod Prot Veg14415422Google Scholar
  27. López, C, Sans, A, Asín, L, Eizaguirre, M 2001Phenological model for Sesamia nonagrioides (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)Environ Entomol302330Google Scholar
  28. Lopez, MD, Prasifka, JR, Bruck, DJ, Lewis, LC 2005Utility of ground beetle species in field tests of potential nontarget effects of Bt cropsEnviron Entomol3413171324Google Scholar
  29. Lumbierres, B, Albajes, R, Pons, X 2004Transgenic Bt maize and Rhopalosiphum padi (Hom., Aphididae) performanceEcol Entomol29309317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. NRC (National Research Council)2002Environmental effects of transgenic plants: the scope and adequacy of regulationNational Academy PressWashingtonGoogle Scholar
  31. Musser, FR, Shelton, AM 2003Bt sweet corn and selective insecticides: impacts on pests and predatorsJ Econ Entomol967180PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Obrist L, Dutton A, Albajes R and Bigler F (2005) Exposure of arthropod predators to Cry1Ab toxin in Bt maize fields. Ecol Entomol (in press)Google Scholar
  33. Onstad, DW, Gould, F 1998Modelling the dynamics of adaptation to transgenic maize by European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae)J Econ Entomol91585593Google Scholar
  34. Orr, DB, Landis, DA 1997Oviposition of European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) and impact of natural enemy populations in transgenic versus isogenic cornJ Econ Entomol90905909Google Scholar
  35. Pilcher, CD, Obrycki, JJ, Rice, ME, Lewis, LC 1997Preimaginal development, survival and field abundance of insect predators on transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis cornEnviron Entomol26446454Google Scholar
  36. Pilcher, CD, Rice, ME, Obrycki, JJ 2005Impact of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis corn and crop phenology on five non target arthropodsEnviron Entomol3413021316Google Scholar
  37. Pons, X, Lumbierres, B, López, C, Albajes, R 2004No effects of Bt maize on Orius majusculus (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae)IOBC/WPRS Bull27131136Google Scholar
  38. Pons, X, Lumbierres, B, López, C, Albajes, R 2005Abundance of non-target pests in transgenic Bt-maize: a farm scale studyEur J Entomol1027379Google Scholar
  39. Poza, M, Pons, X, Farinós, GP, López, C, Ortego, F, Eizaguirre, M, Castañera, P, Albajes, R 2005Impact of farm-scale Bt maize on abundance of predatory arthropods in SpainCrop Prot24677684Google Scholar
  40. Prasifka, JR, Hellmich, RL, Dively, GP, Lewis, LC 2005Assessing the effects of pest management on nontarget arthropods: the influence of plot size and isolationEnviron Entomol3411811192Google Scholar
  41. Raps, A, Kehr, J, Gugerli, P, Moar, WJ, Bigler, F, Hilbeck, A 2001Immunological analysis of phloem sap of Bacillus thuringiensis corn and of the non target herbivore Rhopalosiphum padi (Homoptera: Aphididae) for the presence of Cry1AbMol Ecol10525533CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Rauschen, S, Ecker, J, Gathmann, A, Schphan, I 2004Impact of growing Bt-maize on cicadas: diversity, abundance and methodsIOBC/WPRS Bull27137142Google Scholar
  43. Royal Society of Canada (2001) Elements of precaution: recommendations for the regulation of food biotechnology in Canada. The Royal Society of Canada, Ottawa. Consulted on June 22, 2005, page 160 and others
  44. Saxena, D, Flores, S, Stotzky, G 2002Bt toxin is released in root exudates from 12 transgenic corn hybrids representing three transformation eventsSoil Biol Biochem34133137Google Scholar
  45. Tabashnik, BE 1994Evolution of resistance to Bacillus thuringiensisAnnu Rev Entomol394779CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tabashnik, BE, Cushing, NL, Finson, N, Johnson, MW 1990Field development of resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis in diamondback moth (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae)J Econ Entomol8316711676Google Scholar
  47. Vacher, C, Bourguet, D, Rousset, F, Chevillon, C, Hochberg, ME 2003Modelling the spatial configuration of refuges for a sustainable control of pests: a case study of Bt cottonJ Evolution Biol16378387CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matilde Eizaguirre
    • 1
  • Ramon Albajes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carmen López
    • 1
  • Jordi Eras
    • 2
  • Belén Lumbierres
    • 1
  • Xavier Pons
    • 1
  1. 1.Universitat de Lleida, Centre UdL-IRTALleidaSpain
  2. 2.Departament de QuímicaUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain

Personalised recommendations