04 May 1998
Genetic maize harms beneficial insects
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture have found evidence that the poisonous effects of genetically modified (GM) grain can spread further than previously thought.
The maize is made by Novartis, formerly Ciba Seeds. The company has incorporated a “pesticide” gene into its strains that makes them poisonous to the larvae of the corn-borer. But the scientists have found the strains can damage other insects too.
Novartis GM seeds have been at the centre of controversy in Europe. It was only approved by the European Commission after much argument and despite objections from the European Parliament.
Michael Meacher, the Minister for the Environment, has said he is “totally dissatisfied” with regulation of GM products. The European Commission says that approval can only be withdrawn if new scientific evidence raises questions of safety.