GM Crops Kill Lady Bugs; Science Suppressed
A recent article in Nature Biotechnology (PDF) reveals data, formerly suppressed by the biotechnology industry, that demonstrate a transgenic variety of corn is fatal to ladybugs. In 2001, at the request of seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred International, university scientists conducted research on a new variety of transgenic corn containing the binary toxin Cry34Ab1/Cry35Ab1. The scientists found that nearly 100% of ladybugs fed on the corn could not survive past the eighth day of their life cycle. Pioneer prohibited the scientists from publicizing their data and, when applying for regulatory approval for a corn variety containing the same toxin, submitted different data that made no mention of potential harm to ladybugs. Scientists are often barred from publicizing data that is unwelcome to biotechnology companies, particularly when the corporations themselves commissioned the research. Based on claims of business confidentiality and strict contracts with researchers, companies are able to keep unwelcome data under wraps and scientists’ hands tied. Companies routinely deny scientists’ research requests and suppress research by threatening legal action, a practice one scientist describes as “chilling.” In February 2009, 26 corn-pest specialists anonymously submitted a statement to U.S. EPA decrying industry’s prohibitive restrictions on independent research. “The risks of genetically modified crops are coming to light in spite of industry’s attempts to strangle the science,” observes Kathryn Gilje, executive director of Pesticide Action Network North America. Ireland recently banned GM crops in favor of developing agriculture that emphasizes proven agroecological solutions.