Newswise — As the controversy over possible environmental effects of transgenic crops continues, a new study suggests that issues may be less related to genetics and more to nutrition. The study is published in the latest issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
Researchers at the state university in the Corn Belt city of Ames, Iowa have studied the environmental effects of the transgenic crop Cry1Ab Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a corn crop containing spores and protein crystals that has been used as a microbial insecticide for more than 40 years. Worldwide, the area on which Bt corn is grown increased from 3 million ha in 1998 to 15.5 million ha in 2003.
This research focused on little-studied decomposer organisms, which are essential food chain components that can receive major exposure to transgenic crops. The study incorporated a more realistic exposure approach than previous work in that a wide range of corn varieties including both natural and transgenic varieties were assessed.
The results indicated that the transgenic protein in several corn lines did not affect survival or growth of the arthropod decomposers. Instead, the researchers found that there were differences between corn lines independent of transgenic features. The nutritional elements of the corn line—be it natural or transgenic—were the determining factors for organism feeding. These differences may play an important role in how different crops, including transgenic crops, can affect agroecosystems.
To read the entire study, click here: http://www.allenpress.com/pdf/entc_25_1010_2653_2661.pdf
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry is the monthly journal of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). For more information about the Society, visit http://www.setac.org.