17 September 2001
GM fear for butterflies &#145unfounded’

By FWi staff

CAMPAIGNERS against genetically modified crops are under fire after one of their key claims was shown to be unfounded, it is reported.

The most comprehensive analysis yet of the effects of GM maize on monarch butterflies found that the risk to the insect is negligible, reports The Times.

The revelation has lead to accusations that green lobbyists have been distorting science to promote their case against GM crops.

The butterfly is one of North Americas most spectacular species.

An earlier study suggesting that toxic pollen from the maize could cause serious harm to the butterfly was much cited by anti-GM campaigners.

But these results have now been undermined by new research.

The research does not dispute that GM pollen can be poisonous. But it shows that monarch caterpillars living in cornfields are not exposed to harmful levels.

One variety of GM maize does puts monarchs at something more than a neglible risk, however, and it has been withdrawn from the market, it adds.

Researcher May Berenbaum said: “I wouldnt say that butterflies are terribly at risk, given that the dangerous form is not being planted.”

Vivian Moses, chairman of the biotechnology panel CropGen, said: “So often, as in this case, further research finds the initial scare not to be justified.