- Contact: Dan Eramian
WASHINGTON (June 5, 2000) - Results of a study publishedtoday indicate that earlier laboratory reports of a relationship between mortality of butterflies and contact with Bt corn are not a reliable guide to what happens in the field.
"This new study, conducted under actual field conditions, shouldhelp clip the wings of last year's stories hypothesizing negative effects of Bt corn on monarch butterflies," said Dr. L. Val Giddings, vice president for food and agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). "Findings of the University of Illinois researchers support the judgment that most nontarget species are not significantly impacted by Bt corn pollen in the field."
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is titled "Absence of toxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis pollen to black swallowtails under field conditions."
Giddings noted that researchers and butterfly conservationistsare more concerned about the acknowledged threats from habitat destruction, urban sprawl and predators. Pollen from corn improved through biotechnology is low on the list if it is there at all.
"Bt corn represents a significant advance in agriculture, whichfarmers can continue to use in full knowledge they are practicing good stewardship," Giddings said.
Cornell University's monarch study, published last year in theform of a letter in Nature magazine, inspired significant interest in Bt corn from opponents of biotechnology and was widely reported by the news media.
BIO represents more than 920 companies, academic institutionsand biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental products.