WASHINGTON – Following a nearly two-year long review process, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved corn genetically modified with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for an additional seven years.
Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally-occurring soil bacterium that produces a protein toxic to certain insects, has been used for many years to control insect pests. Incorporating the genetic material from Bt into corn plants enables the plants to produce the same toxin and defend against several pest species.
“We are confident that it does not pose risks to human health or to the environment,” said Stephen L. Johnson, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances.
Checks and balances. The renewed registrations of the five Bt corn products continue to include specific requirements.
Specifically, EPA is requesting additional data on the persistence of the active protein in soil, field studies on nontarget insects, studies examining long-term effects on Monarch butterfly population, an additional feeding study for bird species, and monitoring of the behavior of particular pest populations and their north-south movement through the country.
Companies marketing Bt corn seed will be required to monitor for the development of insect resistance, provide annual reports on the efficacy of resistance management plans, and implement remedial action plans in the event that resistance is detected among pest populations.
The companies must also educate growers about the best methods of planting Bt corn to minimize any potential development of insect resistance.
Sign here. All growers must sign contractual grower agreements that set forth the terms and conditions for use.
Companies are now required to implement a system to secure signature of the grower agreements prior to receipt of any seed, and to make the grower agreements available to EPA.
To monitor the enhanced requirements, an independent, third party compliance survey of licensed growers will be conducted annually for the duration of the registrations.
The companies holding registrations for Bt corn are Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer/DuPont and Mycogen/Dow.