Filed Under: Biotechnology

Butterflies are Cheap. Junk Science Costs a Bundle.

Supporters of “chaos theory” argue that a butterfly flapping its wings in Europe can trigger hundreds of chain reactions which will eventually affect the weather in the U.S. While that may be a stretch, it is true that a couple of dead butterfly caterpillars in California can trigger a worldwide panic over food safety.

In a recent Cornell University experiment, eleven monarch butterfly caterpillars died after eating milkweed leaves dusted with pollen from a genetically modified corn plant. Immediately, Greenpeace and other nanny groups opposed to modern food technology seized on this episode to launch an international media blitz proclaiming genetically engineered (GE) foods a worldwide hazard. In their haste to frighten you, they failed to mention a few important facts:

  1. Monarch butterfly caterpillars do not eat corn leaves in the wild; they were force-fed.
  2. The corn was genetically engineered to produce a naturally occurring pesticide which is toxic to caterpillars. In other words, it worked!
  3. The researchers themselves cautioned “It would be inappropriate to draw any conclusions about the risk to monarch populations in the field based on these initial results.”

If Greenpeace succeeds in their campaign against GE crops containing this natural pesticide, an additional $1 billion will be spent each year (in the United States alone) spraying man-made pesticides on corn and other crops.

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