Chapter

Killer Corn

C. Neal Stewart

in Genetically Modified Planet

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195157451
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199790388 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157451.003.0006
 Killer Corn

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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

Chapter.  7430 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biotechnology

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