Genetically Engineered Soil Microbes: Risks and Concerns

Biotech companies are developing genetically engineered microbes for use in agriculture, including the largest agrichemical corporations — Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, and BASF. The first of these products are already being used across millions of acres of U.S. farmland.   

The release of live genetically engineered microbes in agriculture represents an unprecedented open-air genetic experiment. The scale of release is far larger and the odds of containment far smaller than for genetically engineered crops. 

This report provides historical context for this novel technology, insight into future trends, a summary of potential risks, and policy recommendations that would ensure robust assessment and oversight as more genetically engineered microbes move from the lab to the field.  

What types of microbes are being genetically engineered for agriculture?  

Bacteria, viruses and fungi are being genetically engineered for agricultural uses with bacteria being the most common.