Bt Corn and Monarch Butterflies--Anything New?

November 5, 1999
At a recent meeting in Chicago sponsored by the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Working Group, scientists came together to discuss results from studies that were conducted to determine the potential impact of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterflies. You probably recall the buzz created this past summer by a study conducted at Cornell University suggesting that monarch butterfly caterpillars could be killed by Bt corn pollen. Much has been written since, and some important scientific work has been conducted.

However, not much new came out of the meeting. As one might have suspected, the results from research studies conducted in 1999 are not all conclusive, so statements such as, "The impact is uncertain" and "I'm assuming the risk of the hazard to monarch larvae is very minimal" were common. In other words, studies will continue, but for now, the risk of Bt corn pollen to monarchs will remain an issue, although most scientists suspect that the risk will be limited. Stay tuned for further developments on this issue.--Kevin Steffey

Author: Kevin Steffey