A brief statement on the studies of the ecological impact of Bt cotton
conducted by Dr. Kongming Wu's lab, Institute of Plant Protection, CAAS
Dr. Kongming Wu is an entomologist who has been engaged in the study of
cotton insect pests since 1985 and the ecological impact of Bt cotton
since 1996. He is a professor and director of the Department of
Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), Beijing, China; a member of the National GMO
Biosafety Committee; and Chief Scientist of the National High-Tech Program
on the ecological safety of Bt cotton in China. His laboratory is one of
four mentioned by the Greenpeace-published Report on the environmental
impact of Bt cotton in China.
The following is Kongming Wu's brief statement.
When the report “A Summary of Research on the Environmental Impact of Bt
Cotton in China” written by Prof. Dayuan Xue, Nanjing Institute of
Environmental Sciences, was published by Greenpeace in early June 2002, I
was in USA as a visiting scholar. Some friends sent me the report by
e-mail, I just read the abstract because my computer was failed to open
the PDF attachment.
After carefully reading the report when I was back to Beijing on June 21,
I amazedly found that our studies on ecological impacts of Bt cotton were
summarized incorrectly by the author. In fact, our results strongly oppose
the major conclusions in Green Peace’s report and do not support their
views. On behalf of my laboratory, I would like to make a statement for
clarification our research results.
Supported by the National High-Tech Program, the Basic Research Program
and the State Key Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of
China, and a Special Project for Development of Cotton Production from the
Ministry of Agriculture, China, a series of ecological safety studies of
Bt cotton have been conducted by the Cotton Insect Research Group,
Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
since 1995, which include efficacy of Bt cotton against Helicoverpa
armigera (CBW), field abundances of natural enemies, impacts on non-target
insect pests, arthropod community structure in the Bt cotton ecosystem,
baseline for CBW resistance to Cry1Ac protein, resistance monitoring,
selection of resistant strains of CBW and resistance inheritance,
resistance mechanisms, evaluation of natural refugia function, and the
biology of CBW in relation to resistance evolution. The major results
related to the report are listed as follows.
1. Several Bt cotton varieties, developed by the Biotechnology Research
Institute, CAAS and Monsanto Co. were evaluated for resistance to
Helicoverpa armigera during 1997-2001. The results showed that Bt cotton
possessed high levels of field-efficacy against H. armigera, with about
80-95% control in different years. In a general year of CBW occurring,
damage from CBW on cotton was controlled effectively.
2. Influences of Bt cotton planting on the population dynamics of cotton
aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover, another key insect pest of cotton in China,
were investigated during 1998-2001. The results showed that population
densities of cotton aphids were significantly higher in plots of
conventional cotton with both pyrethroid and organophosphate insecticide
applications than in Bt cotton fields because of the resistance of cotton
aphids to the majority of insecticides used for control of H. armigera and
lower densities of predators in late June and early July caused by
insecticide use. , This suggests that Bt cotton planting not only played
an important role in the control of H. armigera, but also efficiently
prevented cotton aphid resurgence that would have occurred with
insecticide applications for control of H. armigera.
3. Lygus lucorum Meyer-Dür, Adelphocoris fasciaticollis Reuter and
Adelphocoris lineolatus (Goeze) (Hemiptera: Miridae) are important
secondary insect pests in cotton fields in northern China. The seasonal
dynamics of their mixed populations on a transgenic variety expressing the
insecticidal Bt protein Cry1Ac and a cotton line expressing the proteins
Cry1Ac and CpTI (cowpea trypsin inhibitor gene) were compared with
non-transgenic varieties from 1998 to 2001. The results indicated that
there were no significant differences between the population densities of
these bugs on unsprayed normal cotton and unsprayed transgenic cotton.
However, mirid densities on sprayed transgenic cotton were significantly
higher than those on sprayed conventional cotton because of the greater
number of insecticide applications against Helicoverpa armigera on the
4. Field abundances of insect predators on Bt cotton were evaluated in
1997-2001 at two sites in northern China. The results indicated that, in
comparison with the normal cotton plots where insecticides were regularly
used against cotton bollworm, the population densities of predators in Bt
cotton plots were significantly higher.
5. Arthropod community structure in the Bt cotton ecosystem was
investigated in 2000-2001. Three treatments, including Bt cotton (no
sprays), normal cotton (no sprays), and normal cotton (regular spraying),
were included. Arthropods were collected using a portable suction device.
The results indicated that the diversity of arthropod communities in Bt
cotton plots was higher than that in the other treatments.
6. Geographical variations in sensitivity of cotton bollworm to the Bt
protein Cry1A(c) was studied in 1997 to establish a geographical baseline
for comparing future population responses to increased use of Bt products
in agriculture in China. More than 20 bollworm populations were collected
from 5 cotton-growing regions of China, and the dose responses to Cry1A(c)
protein in terms of mortality and growth inhibition were evaluated. On the
basis of the baseline study, sensitivities of field populations of
Helicoverpa armigera to Cry1A(c) were monitored during 1998 ? 2001. A
total of 55 strains were sampled, and most of them were collected from Bt
cotton planting regions. It was determined that the field populations
sampled during the 4 year's study were susceptible to Cry1A(c) protein,
and no development of resistance was apparent.
7. Function of natural refuge was evaluated during 1999-2001. Although
growth and development of H. armigera on Bt cotton was much slower than on
common cotton, there was still a high probability of mating between
populations from Bt cotton and other sources due to the scattered
emergence pattern of H. armigera adults, and overlap of the 2nd and 3rd
generations. In a cotton and corn growing region, early and late planted
corn provided a suitable refuge for the 3rd and 4th generations of H.
armigera, but not for the 2nd generation. In a cotton and soybean/peanut
mixed system, non-cotton crops provided a natural refuge for the 2nd to
4th generation H. armigera, but the function of the refuge was closely
depended on the proportion of Bt cotton.
Cotton bollworm is one of the most important agricultural pests in China.
Both synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphate insecticides have been used
over the past 20 years to control it. Since the late-1980s, applications
of chemical insecticides have caused a series of serious issues, such as
the insect resistance and resurgence, decrease of farmer's income,
pesticide residue and environment pollution.
By several year studies, we conclude that Bt cotton possesses a high
efficiency for control of H. armigera, and its planting in China has the
advantages of reducing the use of chemical insecticides for control of two
key insect pests, cotton bollworm and cotton aphid, which would benefit
for decreasing environmental pollution and related costs from the insect
control in cotton, prolong the useful time of pyrethroid and
organophosphate insecticides by reducing the area sprayed and frequency of
sprays, and increase the potential for natural and biological control of
cotton insect pests.
For further reading please refer to the following papers:
1. Wu, K., G. Liang & Y. Guo. 1997. Phoxim resistance of cotton bollworm
in China. J. Econ. Entomol. 90(4): 868-872.
2. Wu, K., Y. Guo & N. Lv 1999. Geographic variation in susceptibility of
Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to Bt insecticidal protein
in China. J. Econ. Entomol. 92(2): 273-278.
3. Wu, K., Y. Guo, and W. Wang. 2000. Field resistance evaluations of Bt
transgenic cotton GK series to cotton bollworm. Acta Phytophylacica
Sinica. Vol. 27(4): 317-321.
4. Liang, G., W. Tan, and Y. Guo. 2000. Study on screening and inheritance
mode of resistance to Bt transgenic cotton in cotton bollworm. Acta
Entomologica Sinica. 43(sup.): 57-62.
5. Liang, G., W. Tan, and Y. Guo. 2000. Studies on the resistance
screening and cross-resistance of cotton bollworm to Bacillus
thuringiensis. Scientia Agricultura Sinica. 33(4): 46-53
6. Wu, K. 2001. IPM in Bt cotton. In: Jia, S. et al. (Ed), Transgenic
cotton. Sciences Press, Beijing, pp. 218-224.
7. Zhang, R. K. Wu and Y. Guo. 2001. On the spatio-temporal expression of
the contents of Bt insecticidal protein and the resistance of Bt
transgenic cotton to cotton bollworm. Acta Phytophylacica Sinica. Vol.
8. Wu, K., G. Xu and Y. Guo 2001 Seasonal population dynamics of tobacco
white fly adults on cotton in northern China. Plant Protection. 27(2):
9. Liang, G., W. Tan, and Y. Guo. 2001. Comparison of some detoxification
enzyme and midgut protease activities between resistant and susceptible
cotton bollworm population to Bt. Acta Phytophylacica Sinica. Vol. 28(2):
10. Zhang Yongjun, Xu Guang, Guo Yuyuan, Wu Kongming. 2001. Analysis of
volatile components in transgenic Bt cotton and their parental varieties.
Acta Ecologica Sinica. 21(12): 2051-2056.
11. Liang, G., W. Tan, and Y. Guo. 2001. Pathological changes in midgut
tissues of cotton bollworm larvae after intaking transgenic Bt cotton.
Cotton Science. 13(3): 138-141.
12. Zhang Y., J. Yang, Y. Guo and K. Wu 2002. Study on the interactions
between exogenous Bt-ICP and cotton terpenoids chemicals. Scientia
Agricultura Sinica. 35(5): 514-519.
13. Zhang Y., J. Yang, Y. Guo, K. Wu and W. Wang. 2002. Changes of Bt-ICP
and main secondary resistant metabolites in Bt transgenic cotton after
being induced by chemical regulators. Cotton Sciences. 14(3): 131-133.
14. Wu K., Y. Guo, N. Lv, J. Greenplate and R. Deaton 2002. Resistance
monitoring of Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to Bt
insecticidal protein in China. J. Econ. Entomol. 95 (3).
15. Wu K., Y. Guo and S. Gao 2002. Evaluation of the natural refuge
function for Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) within Bt transgenic cotton
growing areas in north China. J. Econ. Entomol. 95 (4).
16. Wu K., W. Li, H. Feng and Y. Guo 2002. Seasonal abundance of the
mirids, Lygus lucorum and Adelphocoris spp. (Hemiptera: Miridae) on Bt
cotton in northern China. Crop Protection (in press).
17. Huang M., P. Wan, K. Wu, J. Wu, X. Fan and M. LI. 2002. Resistance
evaluation of Bt transgenic cotton to cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa
armigera, in mid-Changjiang River Valley. Acta Gossypii Sinica (in press).
18. Wu K. and Y. Guo. Influences of Bt cotton planting on population
dynamics of cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover, in northern China.
Environ. Entomol.( accepted)
19. Li W., G. Ye, K. Wu, X. Wang and Y. Guo. Evaluation of the impact of
Bt/CpTI transgenic cotton and corn on the growth and development of
mulberry silkworm, Bombyx mori Linnaeus (Lepidoptera: Bombyxidae).
Scientia Agricultura Sinica. ( accepted).
My laboratory is one of four mentioned by the Greenpeace-published Report
on the environmental impact of Bt cotton in China. Attached is my formal
response to the report (Above). Please transfer to anyone who is
interesting in the event.
Dr. Kongming Wu
Professor and Director of Department of
Deputy Director of State Key Laboratory for
Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests
Institute of Plant Protection
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Beijing, 100094, P. R. China