Researchers reach conclusions
In the summer of 2000, University of Illinois researchers reported
a study showing the absence of toxicity of Bt corn pollen
to black swallowtails under field conditions (Wraight et al., 2000).
Unlike the note in Nature, this study considered mortality
factors under field conditions where environmental factors
(sun, wind and rain) may influence pollen dispersal and deposition,
and consumption by larvae given free choice of feeding location.
In laboratory assays with the exception of Bt corn
event 176 researchers did not see mortality even at Bt
pollen doses fivefold higher than those typically found in the field.
Twenty-nine scientists in the United States and Canada conducted
laboratory and field studies in 1999 and 2000 to evaluate in detail
any impact by biotech corn pollen on monarch butterflies. Weed scientists,
corn researchers, entomologists and other specialists shared and
compared data, and pooled expertise from different fields of science
to make a complete assessment of the potential impact of Bt
corn pollen on monarch butterflies. Such widespread cooperation
was important in developing the complete picture quickly.
Not only were data shared during the studies, the scientists also
grouped their data when it came time to write the scientific journal
articles that would subject the research to rigorous scientific
review. This allowed the research that answered all of the basic
questions to be reviewed at the same time and published together,
rather than stringing out the reports over a period of months and
in a number of journals. This would have made it harder to put the
complete picture together, especially for the public.
On October 9, 2001, the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences published six comprehensive studies in an issue that
featured this research.