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Daily News Archive
From October 18, 2001

Genetically Engineered Bt Corn Approved by EPA

On October 16, 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved for another seven years the use of a controversial genetically engineered corn that produces the pesticide Bt within its cells. EPA researchers concluded that the Bt corn poses no environmental or human health risks, but environmentalists and consumer-advocacy groups have expressed fears that the long-term health effects are unknown and that the crop will lead to a new strain of resistant pests.

Bt is a naturally occurring soil bacteria that is toxic to many insects, including moths and butterflies, in their larval stage. Since it was introduced, Bt corn has come under sharp criticism from the environmental community for its effect on local ecosystems. Studies have shown that Bt corn is having dramatic effects on monarchs and other butterfly populations.

Currently farmers are required to plant at least 20 percent of their cornfields with
conventional varieties to discourage genetic mutations that could lead to resistance, but studies showed that nearly a third of all farmers using the corn violated that restriction last year.