New study finds butterflies unharmed by GMO corn

Jeffrey A. Caldwell ecosys at
Wed Jun 7 20:06:28 EDT 2000


Have you tried eating some good organically grown corn tortillas for a comparison
test?  I think they're probably available at Central Market on Lamar Blvd. in

"Chris J. Durden" wrote:

> 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?
> ........Chris
> 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
> death.
> >
> >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
> crops,
> >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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