The latest Bt corn scare - the other side of the story

Paul Cherubini cherubini at
Tue Aug 22 03:34:38 EDT 2000

Novartis Says Study Flawed

Novartis defended the safety of its Bt corn, saying the new study
did not duplicate real-world conditions.

 ``Research conducted outdoors doesn't indicate what happens in a
field environment,'' said Novartis spokesman Rich Lotstein. ``The weight
of evidence of published and preliminary research indicates that milkweed
within one meter of Bt corn fields are highly unlikely to be dusted
with toxic levels of Bt pollen.''

 A dozen university researchers stretching from Canada to the Midwestern
 corn belt are currently studying Bt corn fields and whether the
 pollen impacts migrating Monarch butterflies.

 ``Based on what we've seen so far, we're not seeing any impact on any
 non-target organism, particularly the Monarch butterfly,'' Steve
 Johnson, an EPA deputy assistant administrator, said in an interview.

He downplayed environmentalists' concerns about the latest
butterfly study. ``If we were confronted by information that raised
significant public health or environmental issues, then certainly we
could take immediate action,'' Johnson said. ``Based on the reviews
of all the data that have come in, we don't see any reason to take
any kind of action at this time.''

`Much of what (the Iowa State study) reports is based on analyses
taking place in laboratory manipulations rather than field conditions,''
said Val Giddings, vice president of food and agriculture for the
Biotechnology Industry Organization. Giddings said butterfly
caterpillars are unlikely to encounter the pollen in nature in any
great numbers and that the monarch butterfly population increased 
almost as much as the plantings of Bt corn last year.

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