NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Genetically Engineered Corn Safe For Butterlies

December 18, 2000

Fears that genetically engineered corn could be harmful to monarch caterpillars appear to be unfounded, scientists report. The caterpillars feed at the same time of summer that the corn is shedding pollen that could be toxic to them. However, according to Eldon Ortman, a Purdue University entomologist:

  • There is rarely enough pollen on milkweed to kill the caterpillars.
  • It would appear the direct impact on the monarchs is probably relatively limited.
  • In fact, Ortman and his colleagues found more butterflies and milkweed in cornfields than they expected.

The researchers stressed the finding were preliminary. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to use the research as it decides whether to renew approval of the biotech corn and varieties of gene-altered cotton and potatoes.

Source: Staff and wire reports, "Butterflies Not Harmed By Biotech Corn," USA Today, December 18, 2000.


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