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Phase I Workshops: Brazil workshop

Brazil Phase I workshop: Methodologies for assessing Bt cotton in Brazil

The project workshop in Brazil took place from 14 to 17 June 2003, in Brasilia. 83 scientists, 52 of them from Brazil, worked on the project methods using the case study of Bt (Bollgard) cotton. The results have been published in a book.

The Brazil workshop brought together 83 scientists from 38 institutions and 9 countries. This high level of public sector scientific expertise on the environmental impacts of transgenic crops included 52 Brazilian experts, who came from 7 Embrapa agricultural research centres, 3 Brazilian ministries, and 10 universities and other research institutes, as well as teams from Kenya and Vietnam.

The draft project methodologies were thoroughly tested and improved during an intense four days of work.

The Brazilian workshop participants wrote a report on the scientific results of the Brazil workshop: GMO Guidelines Project: Algodão Bt edited by Deise Capalbo and Eliana Fontes, published online in Portuguese. The report was used frequently in the CTNBio discussions on Bt cotton.


Some key findings:

In Brazil, there are no significant genetic or cytogenetic barriers to gene flow among the four cultivated and wild cotton (Gossypium) species, and viable hybrids have been shown to form spontaneously and be reproductively successful; in each cotton cultivating region there is a different geographic overlap of some of the four species. There is evidence of unattended feral cotton populations, which could be recipients of gene flow from Bt cotton, but these have never been systematically surveyed. A table detailing all the types of recipient population and the factors that could affect gene flow between them, such as geographic proximity, pollination biology, and pollen dispersal distance, was particularly useful.

For Bt cotton in Brazil, four target Lepidoptera were identified to be prone to developing resistance. These species, Heliothis virescens, Spodoptera frugiperda, Alabama argillacea and Pectinophora gossypiella, have a variable history of resistance to pesticides in Brazil and elsewhere. Three species are closely associated with cotton and therefore likely to be exposed to more intense selection, but in the Midwest region of Brazil where most cotton is grown, Spodoptera frugiperda is also a significant resistance risk, particularly if Bt maize is also adopted there.

A resistance management plan using structured refuges was evaluated using specially developed versions of Mike Caprio’s model, both using a deterministic approach and a probabilistic approach. We strongly recommended the deployment of two-gene Bt cotton in Brazil combined with non-Bt cotton refuges.


The project thanks the Brazilian Agricultural Research Organisation (Embrapa) for their financial and institutional support of the Brazil workshop and public day; the Research and Projects Financing (Finep) and the National Council for Scientific and Technical Development (CNPq) for funding for the Brazil workshop.

Further Information

• Publication of a book on the results of the workshop

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• download workshop program (pdf 192 KB)


Public Day, Brasilia


workshop group (PFOA)