• Open Access

The role of transgenic crops in sustainable development


(Tel 00 44 118 378 6686; fax 00 44 118 935 2421;
email j.r.park@rdg.ac.uk)


The concept of sustainable development forms the basis for a wide variety of international and national policy making. World population continues to expand at about 80 M people per year, while the demand for natural resources continues to escalate. Important policies, treaties and goals underpin the notion of sustainable development. In this paper, we discuss and evaluate a range of scientific literature pertaining to the use of transgenic crops in meeting sustainable development goals. It is concluded that a considerable body of evidence has accrued since the first commercial growing of transgenic crops, which suggests that they can contribute in all three traditional pillars of sustainability, i.e. economically, environmentally and socially. Management of herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant transgenic crops to minimize the risk of weeds and pests developing resistance is discussed, together with the associated concern about the risk of loss of biodiversity. As the world population continues to rise, the evidence reviewed here suggests it would be unwise to ignore transgenic crops as one of the tools that can help meet aspirations for increasingly sustainable global development.