A mathematical model of exposure of non-target Lepidoptera to Bt-maize pollen expressing Cry1Ab within Europe

J. N. Perry, Y. Devos, S. Arpaia, D. Bartsch, A. Gathmann, R. S. Hails, J. Kiss, K. Lheureux, B. Manachini, S. Mestdagh, G. Neemann, F. Ortego, J. Schiemann, J. B. Sweet


Genetically modified (GM) maize MON810 expresses a Cry1Ab insecticidal protein, derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), toxic to lepidopteran target pests such as Ostrinia nubilalis. An environmental risk to non-target Lepidoptera from this GM crop is exposure to harmful amounts of Bt-containing pollen deposited on host plants in or near MON810 fields. An 11-parameter mathematical model analysed exposure of larvae of three non-target species: the butterflies Inachis io (L.), Vanessa atalanta (L.) and moth Plutella xylostella (L.), in 11 representative maize cultivation regions in four European countries. A mortality–dose relationship was integrated with a dose–distance relationship to estimate mortality both within the maize MON810 crop and within the field margin at varying distances from the crop edge. Mortality estimates were adjusted to allow for physical effects; the lack of temporal coincidence between the susceptible larval stage concerned and the period over which maize MON810 pollen is shed; and seven further parameters concerned with maize agronomy and host-plant ecology. Sublethal effects were estimated and allowance made for aggregated pollen deposition. Estimated environmental impact was low: in all regions, the calculated mortality rate for worst-case scenarios was less than one individual in every 1572 for the butterflies and one in 392 for the moth.


    • Received November 17, 2009.
    • Accepted December 9, 2009.

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