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Genetically Modified PlanetEnvironmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Plants$
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C. Neal Stewart

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195157451

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157451.001.0001

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Killer Corn

Killer Corn

Monarch Butterfly Exterminators?

(p.87) 6 Killer Corn
Genetically Modified Planet

C. Neal Stewart

Oxford University Press

A study published in 1999 by a group of Cornell University researchers caused controversy by purporting that transgenic insect-resistant corn expressing a Bt endotoxin gene was risky for monarch butterfly caterpillars. When monarch caterpillars were forced to eat Bt corn pollen and plant parts associated with pollen, the caterpillars died. The lab experiments were criticized as flawed since they were not predictive of exposure or toxicity in the field. A number of follow-up field experiments with Bt corn conclusively demonstrated that the exposure of monarch butterfly caterpillars to Bt toxin was low, and that their numbers would not be significantly effected by transgenic crops that produced their own insecticide. Again, a false alarm was pulled suggesting that transgenic plants are more risky than they really are.

Keywords:   Bt corn, caterpillars, field experiments, pollen

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