RELEASE CONTACT: Dan Eramian
BIO Statement Regarding Purported New
BT Corn and Monarch Butterflies
(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
WASHINGTON (August 21, 2000) --"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 research.
"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
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.
Dr. Mark Sears, Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental
Biology at the Ontario Agriculture College of the University of Guelph,
Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Msears@evbhort.uoguelph.ca. (519) 824-4120.
Dr. John Pleasants, Department of Zoology and Genetics at Iowa State
University, Ames, Iowa. Jpleasan@iastate.edu. (515) 294-7204.
EPA response to Greenpeace lawsuit concerning the registration and use
of genetically engineered plants expressing bacillus