Transgenic trees: a multidisciplinary approach to problems related to public attitudes, social acceptance and ecological risks
- Aim: Evaluate how GM trees might influence biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Determine how perceived risks and the level of knowledge, together with other social factors, will influence attitudes in the public and decision makers towards GM trees.
Project description: The focus of most risk assessments studies of GM plants have mainly been on single intra-disciplinary subjects. However, a more integrative and multidisciplinary approach is needed to address complex issues related to the use of GM plants. The reason for this is that whether or not a GM plant will be commercially used depends not only on a scientific evaluation of the balance between benefits and risks. Instead, it will to a large extent depend on the attitudes of the public and decision makers toward the new technology.
We will address the poorly explored questions on how the use of GM trees might influence biodiversity and ecosystem processes. The next step will be to integrate our acquired knowledge on ecological risks with GM trees with that of sociological and philosophical problem related to the new technology in order to construct and perform attitude surveys. In these surveys we will determine how perceived risks and the level of knowledge, together with other social factors, will influence attitudes in the public and decision makers towards GM trees. In addition, we will evaluate if these attitudes can be understood and verified in a philosophical framework.
Funding: Formas (interdisciplinary research grant and PhD student grant).
Axelsson EP, Hjältén J and LeRoy CJ. 2012. Performance of insect-resistant Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-expressing aspens under semi-natural field conditions including natural herbivory in Sweden. Forest Ecology and Management 264: 167-171.
Hjältén J, Axelsson EP, Whitham TG, LeRoy CJ, Julkunen-Tiitto R, Wennström A and Pilate G. 2012. Increased resistance of Bt aspens to Phratora vitellinae (Coleoptera) leads to increased plant growth under experimental conditions. PLoS ONE 7(1): e30640. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030640
Axelsson EP, Hjältén J, LeRoy CJ, Whitham TG, Julkunen-Tiitto R and Wennström A. (2011) Leaf litter from insect-resistant transgenic trees cause changes in aquatic insect community composition. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 1472-1479.
Axelsson EP, Hjältén J, Whitham TG, Julkunen-Tiitto R, Pilate G and Wennström A. (2011) Leaf ontogeny interacts with Bt-modification to affect innate resistance in GM aspens. Chemoecology, 21(3): 161-169.
Axelsson EP, Hjältén J, LeRoy CJ, Julkunen-Tiitto R, Wennström A, and Pilate G. 2010. Can leaf litter from genetically modified trees affect aquatic ecosystems? Ecosystems 13(7):1049-1059.
Thomas A Heberlein
Thomas G. Whitham