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2-Plants: New US study confirms risks of Bt-corn pollen for monarch butterflies

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TITLE:  A) BIO statement regarding purported new findings on BT corn
           and monarch butterflies
        B) New reserach proves GM plants kill butterflies
SOURCE: A) Biotechnology Industry Organization, USA
        B) Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium
DATE:   A) August 21, 2000
        B) August 22, 2000

-------------------- archive: --------------------

BIO statement regarding purported new findings on BT corn and monarch 

(Dr. Val Giddings, vice president for food and agriculture of the 
Biotechnology Industry Organization [BIO] issued the following 
statement in response to a paper by Dr. John Obrycki published online 
in the journal Oecologia.)

WASHINGTON - "Dr. Obrycki’s research stands in the shadow of more 
than 20 independent studies by widely recognized scientific experts 
who have found that bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn does not pose a 
significant risk to the monarch butterfly,” said Dr. Val Giddings, a 
geneticist. "This report considers only one small area of this 
complex topic and the conclusions put forward by the authors stand in 
stark contrast to those of the broader scientific community’s 

"The Oecologia paper is not truly ‘field research’ inasmuch as much 
of what it reports is based on analyses taking place in laboratory 
manipulations rather than field conditions. Furthermore, the paper 
clearly shows that larval mortality was not correlated with the 
number of pollen grains on the plant or the plant location within or 
at the edge of the field, surprises in search of an explanation.

"Both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the 
Department of Agriculture have studied bt corn for many years. Just 
last week the EPA extended the registrations of these products 
through the 2001 growing season. And in April, the EPA dismissed a 
Greenpeace lawsuit challenging the bt plant registrations on a lack 
of merit, and stated ‘...available scientific data and information 
indicates that the cultivation of bt crops has a positive ecological 
effect, when compared to the most likely alternatives.’

"To imply that Bt corn has a negative effect on monarch butterflies 
flies in the face of the fact that last year, more than 28 million 
acres were planted with bt corn, an increase of approximately 40% 
over the previous year. In the same time period, the monarch 
butterfly population flourished and increased by about 30%, according 
to Monarch Watch.”

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is the world’s largest 
organization to serve and represent the biotechnology industry. BIO’s 
leadership and service-oriented guidance have helped advance the 
industry and bring the benefits of biotechnology to people 
everywhere. BIO represents more than 900 biotechnology companies, 
academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related 
organizations in all 50 states and more than 27 nations. BIO members 
are involved in the research and development of health care, 
agricultural and industrial and environmental biotechnology products.


Additional experts:
Dr. Mark Sears, Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental 
Biology at the Ontario Agriculture College of the University of 
Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. (519) 
Dr. John Pleasants, Department of Zoology and Genetics at Iowa State 
University, Ames, Iowa. (515) 294-7204.

EPA response to Greenpeace lawsuit concerning the registration and 
use of genetically engineered plants expressing bacillus 
thuringiensis endotoxins

Biotechnology Industry Organization 1625 K Street NW, Suite 1100 
Washington DC 20006 
Dan Eramian, Charles Craig, Lisa Dry: +1-202-857-0244


B) New reserach proves GM plants kill butterflies

Ban these crops in Europe now, says Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) is calling for a complete ban on 
genetically modified (GM) maize following publication of new research 
showing that pollen from these plants killed up to 70% of monarch 
butterfly larvae.

Results of the new study, carried out at the University of Iowa (US), 
were published in the scientific journal "Oecologia" on 19.08.2000 
(1). The research complements earlier studies at Cornell University 
(US) last year which demonstrated that nearly half on the butterfly 
larvae which ingested GM maize pollen died (2). That research, 
however, was fiercely attacked by the biotech industry for being 
'artificial' since the caterpillar's natural food, milkweed, had been 
dusted with pollen by the researchers. But the University of Iowa's 
researchers gathered milkweed plants which had been naturally dusted 
with pollen from Bt maize from around fields. Within 48 hours, about 
20% of the caterpillars feeding on the milkweed were dead; this rose 
to between 37-70% after 120 hours. The scientists concluded that "the 
ecological effects of transgenic insecticidal crops need to be 
evaluated more fully before they are planted over extensive areas".

"This significant new research substantiates what environmentalists 
have been saying all along: that GM plants pose unacceptably high 
risks to biodiversity", said Gill Lacroix, Biotechnology Coordinator 
at Friends of the Earth Europe. "The biotech industry strenuously 
denied the Cornell research last year, but once again independent 
scientists have demonstrated that we are endangering all kinds of 
beneficial and benign insects by planting these crops, let alone 
other species and the environment in general", she added.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the European Union not only to 
maintain its current 'de facto' moratorium on further authorisations 
of GM plants, but also to withdraw the approvals already granted for 
3 types of insect-resistant GM maize (3). "It's madness to continue 
to allow these things on the market", Lacroix said. "The maize 
involved in the University of Ohio research was Novartis Bt 176, the 
very first type of GM maize to be authorised for cultivation in the 
EU. We want approval for that, and the others, revoked immediately".

More information:
Gill Lacroix, T. (32-2)-542.0182, mobile (32-476)-244.161

(1) "Field deposition of Bt transgenic corn pollen: lethal effects on 
the monarch butterfly", Laura C. Hansen Jesse and John J. Obrycki, 
Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

(2) "Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae", Nature Magazine, 20 May 

(3) Three types of genetically modified maize expressing the toxic Bt 
gene have been approved by the European Union under Directive 90/220/
EEC: Novartis Bt 176, Monsanto MON 810 and Novartis Bt 11.

Friends of the Earth is the largest grassroots environmental network 
in the world.
Friends of the Earth Europe's membership consists of 30 member 
in 29 European countries with over 3000 local groups


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