Study: Biotech Corn Kills Monarch

Chip Taylor chip at
Wed Aug 23 17:48:39 EDT 2000

In response to Cherubini:

>Chip Taylor wrote:
>> the research to date has not
>> really addressed the impact issue and there has been very little money for
>> monarch/Bt corn work so far.
>According to Monsanto's website on monarchs & Bt corn
>"Before approving Bt corn in 1995, the EPA concluded that the
>Bt corn does not present any "unreasonable adverse effects" to butterflies.
>"Dr. Janet Andersen, director of the EPA's Biopesticides and
>Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD), explained that to reach this
>conclusion, the EPA evaluated both toxicity and exposure,
>which together determine risk."
>"The EPA, Andersen said, assumed that Bt corn is toxic to
>non-target Lepidoptera, a group of insects that includes butterflies
>and moths. However, the EPA determined that exposure of the
>monarch larvae to Bt pollen would be limited. This conclusion
>was based on the fact that the majority of pollen moves only a
>short distance away from cornfields and that exposure of
>monarchs would be limited only to larvae developing on milkweeds
>within the cornfield or very near to cornfields during pollen shed."
Paul: Please read these statements carefully. This is clearly an opinion.
There is no field data that supports this position. In fact, if you take
the last part of this - "  exposure of
monarchs would be limited only to larvae developing on milkweeds
within the cornfield or very near to cornfields during pollen shed." - it's
fair to ask whether mortality in this portion of the habitat would have a
significant impact on monarch populations. Maybe it would and maybe
wouldn't. At this point we don't have enough information to make such a

>"Since only a portion of the milkweed population is likely to
>be exposed to Bt pollen and only a portion of those plants would
>be expected to harbor monarch larvae, the EPA scientists concluded
>that Bt corn does not present any 3unreasonable adverse
>effects to butterflies"

Again, a justification for a course of action made by people who know
little or nothing about the temporal and spatial distribution of monarchs
and who have no clear concept of the population dynamics of monarchs. There
are no facts or evidence cited for this opinion.

>Chip, my understanding is that industry funded over $100,000 worth of
>monarch/Bt corn studies last year and has funded many additional
>independent studies this summer.

Yes, the industry did fund research last yr and added some money to the pot
this yr. Given the complexity of the isssues outlined in my account in the
Monarch Watch Season Summary and the two symposia held on monarchs and Bt ,
it remains that relatively little funding has been available for this
research to date.

>Based on the results of six figures worth of research to date,
>Steve Johnson of the EPA told a reporter two days ago:
>``we're not seeing any impact on any non-target organism, particularly
> the Monarch butterfly''
Paul, do I have to repeat myself? This is an inappropriate comment by
Johnson. The studies to date do not deal effectively with the impact issue.

>Thus the EPA's original assessment in 1995 that Bt corn does not
>present any "unreasonable adverse effects to butterflies"
>appears to have been correct.

Get serious. We need science (experiments, data and evidence), not
evaluations which are based inadequately founded opinions.

Monarch Watch
Email:  monarch at
Dplex-L:  send message "info Dplex-L" to Listproc at
Phone:  1 (888) TAGGING (toll-free!) -or- 1 (785) 864 4441
Fax:  1 (785) 864 4441 -or- 1 (785) 864 5321
Snail:  c/o O.R. Taylor, Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of KS, Lawrence KS 66045

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