New study finds butterflies unharmed by GMO corn

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Wed Jun 7 13:02:40 EDT 2000

That may be so, I have, however stopped buying my favorite brand of
commercial tortillas. I have done this not because I think there is
anything wrong with them. They do not look different. There is no change in
the list of ingredients. I have done this because for the last 3 months
they have not tasted as good and have given me indigestion. Is this a
change in me or the corn? Has anyone else noticed a decline in quality of
corn products recently?

At 09:35  6/06/00 -0800, you wrote:
>CHICAGO, June 6 (Reuters) - The main type of
>genetically modified (GMO) corn used in the United
>States poses no threat to one common butterfly,
>according to a study by University of Illinois researchers
>published on Tuesday.
>The scientists monitored populations of black swallowtail butterflies 
>by a field planted with genetically altered corn and found no relationship
>between the insects' mortality and pollen from the corn.
>``We found that many caterpillars died but not, as far as we could tell, due
> to anything connected to the corn or the corn pollen,'' said May Berenbaum,
>head of the university's entomology department. Berenbaum cited spiders, 
>carnivorous insects and other environmental factors as the main causes of
>The Illinois researchers conducted studies in the field and in a laboratory. 
>Their report was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy 
>of Sciences.
>The findings differ sharply from a May 1999 report in which Cornell
>University researchers said laboratory tests showed pollen from genetically
>altered corn harmed Monarch caterpillars.
>The Cornell report last year provided fuel for opponents of gene-altered
>some of whom adopted the Monarch butterfly as a symbol of protest.
>On Tuesday, the Illinois study findings were hailed by an industry trade
>group as a victory for biotechnology.
>``This new study, conducted under actual field conditions, should help 
>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 Organisation (BIO).
>In the field, the Illinois researchers studied a variety of GMO corn produced
>by Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a subsidiary of DuPont Co 
>(NYSE:DD - news). Known as Bt corn, the plants carry a gene from a 
>soil bacterium that enables them to produce their own insecticide.
>The Bt technology -- used in 15.6 million acres of 20 percent of U.S.
>corn plantings this summer --was designed to protect corn plants against 
>the European corn borer, a costly pest. But the Cornell study sparked 
>fears about the effects of such GMO corn on non-target insects.
>One conclusion of the study, Berenbaum said, is that growers may be
>able to customise their corn crop by using different genetic modifications,
>known as ``events.''
>``There are ways to reduce the risk to non-target organisms at the very 
>least by event selection,'' she said, just as farmers customise their use 
>of conventional insecticides depending on environmental risks.
>Berenbaum said her team chose to focus on the black swallowtail because
>her department has years of expertise with the species, which is common
>throughout eastern North America.
>Like the Monarch, the black swallowtail feeds on plants located along
>the narrow strips between corn fields and roads.

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