Biotech’s Idolized Bt Technology May Transform Benign Insects Into Pests

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Editor’s Note: The reasons for dumping GMOs are numerous, and it’s quite clear that the force-feeding of Bt and other genetically modified crops – both metaphorically and literally – to the American people and the farmers around the world is destructive not only to the health of individuals, and agriculture, but to the biosphere as well.

Sayer Ji
GreenMed Info
August 29, 2013

A new study reveals that one of the most widely used GM pest control technologies could actually be increasing pest virulence in non-target and normally benign species.

A new study published in the biological sciences journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society reveals a profound flaw in one of the most widely used genetic engineering technologies within Biotech’s pest control arsenal, namely, Bt technology, wherein crops of commercial importance are made to express insecticidal Cry proteins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

This controversial technology has resulted in major food crops, such as Bt soy, Bt corn, and Bt canola, being classified by the EPA as ‘biopesticides,’ on the one hand, and by the USDA and FDA as “safe” and “substantially equivalent” to non-GM crops, on the other hand. It is no wonder the American consumer is extremely ambivalent and conflicted over the purported safety of GM food, and increasingly adamant about securing the legal right to truthful labeling of GM-containing foods.

The new study titled, “Pest trade-offs in technology: reduced damage by caterpillars in Bt cotton benefits aphids,” addresses increasing concern about how Bt technology might adversely affect non-target insects, and by virtue of this, the fitness of the Bt plants themselves.[1] Whereas much of the focus in the past has been on the possibility that Bt could harm and/or disrupt pollinator species, this new review addresses the equally concerning potential of Bt technology to enhance predatory behavior in non-target, normally benign insect species.

According to the researchers:

Although studies have now reported increased populations of non-target herbivores in Bt cotton, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We propose that lack of herbivore-induced secondary metabolites in Bt cotton represents a mechanism that benefits non-target herbivores. We show that, because of effective suppression of Bt-sensitive lepidopteran herbivores, Bt cotton contains reduced levels of induced terpenoids. We also show that changes in the overall level of these defensive secondary metabolites are associated with improved performance of a Bt-insensitive herbivore, the cotton aphid, under glasshouse conditions.

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