BT Corn Kills Butterflies

An error page at Cornell University wizened, “Some kind of unknown error occured” [sic].

I trudged along. And what did I learn?

The newly popular bio-tech corn kills butterflies!

You betcha some kind of unknown error occurred.

bt corn pollen killing butterfliesAn increasingly popular commercial corn, genetically engineered to produce a bacterial toxin to protect against corn pests, has an unwanted side effect: Its pollen kills monarch butterfly larvae in laboratory tests, according to a report by Cornell researchers.

Writing in the May 20 issue of the journal Nature, the researchers note that this hybrid crop, known as Bt-corn, has genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spliced into the plant genes. These hybrids are very effective against the ravenous European corn borer, a major corn pest that is destroyed by the plant’s toxic tissue.

The article quickly assures us, “The engineered corn is safe for human consumption”, but continues describing the new poison:

Unlike many pesticides, the Bt-corn has been shown to have no effect on many “nontarget” organisms — pollinators such as honeybees or beneficial predators of pests like ladybugs.

But the Bt-modified corn produces pollen containing crystalline endotoxin from the bacterium genes. When this corn pollen is dispersed by the wind, it lands on other plants, including milkweed, the exclusive food of monarch caterpillars and commonly found around cornfields.

It’s not funny sprinkling surety among surprise….