John Obrycki, Entomology, (515) 294-8622
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- A symposium on the role of genetically altered crops in pest management, which will include information on the use and benefits of transgenic crops in different parts of North America, will be held Dec. 6, as part of the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting in Toronto.

The symposium, entitled "Role of Transgenic Insecticidal Crops on Insect Pest Management," is being co-organized by John Obrycki, an Iowa State University entomologist, and John Losey, an entomologist at Cornell University. Laura Hansen Jesse, an Iowa State graduate student working with Obrycki, will be co-moderator of the symposium.

Currently, there is debate among scientists and policy makers as to the effectiveness and usefulness of genetically altered crops designed to provide enhanced pest resistance. At the heart of the debate is the use of Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) corn and a possible detrimental effect it has on monarch butterfly larvae.

Bt corn was developed to help fight problems with corn borers. But Obrycki and Losey, in separate studies, have shown a connection between the consumption Bt corn pollen and unusually high mortality rates for monarch butterfly larvae. Studies by other researchers have not found such a connection, making the safety of Bt products one of debate in scientific circles.

"We thought it would be a good idea to look at the use of two transgenic crops, corn and cotton, from different areas of the country," Obrycki said. "Symposium speakers will address the benefits and risks associated with transgenic insecticidal crops in several regions of the U.S. They will present information on the role of transgenic corn and cotton from several different perspectives."

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