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Following a 2-year study of Bt corn, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in mid-October determined that it poses no risks to people or the environment. As a result, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Bt corn has been approved for an additional 7 years.
These bioengineered corn varieties produce their own toxin to kill European corn borers. The EPA’s re-registration of Bt corn hybrids includes specific requirements to strengthen insect resistance management, to increase research data on potential environmental effects and to improve grower education and stewardship.
The biotech companies who hold Bt corn registrations — Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Dow Chemical — will continue to be required to monitor use of Bt crops to make sure they don’t lead to insect resistance or have unexpected effects on human health or the environment.
No-tillers will be required to sign statements each year that they are aware of planting restrictions to prevent insect resistance. Farmers must plant at least 20 percent of their corn acreage with conventionally bred varieties. However, the EPA reports that nearly a third of all corn growers violated this restriction last year.
The EPA decision does not apply to StarLink, the Aventis biotech corn variety that was withdrawn from the market last year after it was discovered to be in the U.S. food supply. In addition, the EPA recently approved Bt cotton registration for an additional 5 years.