A 4-yr on-farm study was conducted in the Philippines between 2006 and 2009 to determine if there are any long-term impacts of Bt corn on the arthropod community on commercial farms and in adjacent riparian areas. Arthropod counts were gathered by visual inspection of corn plants in three pairs of commercial farms and by sweep sampling in riparian sites close by. Sampling showed that species composition between Bt and non-Bt corn and between riparian areas adjacent to Bt or non-Bt corn were similar. Principal response curves and analysis of variance showed that there were no adverse effects of Bt corn on the abundance of natural enemies either in crops or adjacent riparian sites. The frequently observed natural enemies in Bt corn were the predatory coccinellid beetle, Micraspis discolor (F.) and spiders (Araneae). Arthropod diversity was similar 1) in Bt- and non-Bt corn and 2) the adjacent riparian areas. Taken together, the two parts of this study show that Bt corn does not have any long-term adverse effect on arthropod communities in corn (Zeamays L.) or in adjacent riparian ecosystems. The methods and results described in this study will be useful to Philippine government regulators in making recommendations and policy guidelines related to monitoring for environmental effects of transgenic crops. The current study did not attempt to demonstrate the direct exposure of arthropods in riparian sites to transgenic Cry1Ab protein that might come from adjacent Bt corn fields; that would require different experimental methods but the current study suggests such effects are unlikely.
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Vol. 41 • No. 5