GMOs Pollute the St. Laurence River
Bt Corn Toxin Concentrations High in Sediment
Pauline Gravel / Le Devoir (Montréal, Québec) 18dec01
(rough translation of French article)
Release and Potential Impacts of Biological Toxins Bt Genetically-Modified Corn Crops and Biopesticide Application F. Gagné, M. Douville C. Blaise, A. Marineau. Dec01
Bt is a bio-pesticide that can have toxic effects on a variety of organisms. The theory is that, unlike chemical pesticides, it will biodegrade rapidly.
However, Canadian researchers report heavy contamination of the sediment of the Saint Laurence river by the Bt corn toxin. Their findings showed sediments drawn from the Saint Laurence had concentrations of the Bt-toxin 5 times higher than in drainage waters and sediments near agricultural land.
According to professor of toxicology, Jean-Francois Narbonne, this concentration-effect suggests "the roots of the Bt-corn plants transfer the gene sequence to other soil bacteria that then also secrete the Bt insecticide".
The Québec study also showed that earthworms are harmed by this pollution, being particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of the Bt insecticide.
Information Network (ngin),
A recent study conducted in Québec was cited as revealing heavy contamination of the sediment of the Saint Laurence by the Bt corn toxin.
The story says these troubling results were cited by Jean-Francois Narbonne, professor of toxicology at l'Université de Bordeaux 1, at an international symposium at the Pasteur Institute in Paris which entitled: "OGM et alimentation: peuat on evaluer des benefices pour la sante?" (Translation = GMOs and food: Can we evaluate the health benefits?)
"Applied as a spray or integrated into a GMO, the Bt insecticide is very interesting because it consists of a protein that is rapidly degraded, which is contrary to chemical pesticides that accumulate in the environment," explained Jean-Francois Narbonne.
The observations made by scientists at the Centre Saint-Laurent d1Environnement Canada and the Institute du recherche en biotechnologie a Montreal leaves them perplexed/confused about the environmental innocuousness/harmlessness of this variety of transgenic corn.
The scientists took samples of surface water and of sediment near fields of Bt corn that were near the shore of the Richelieu river. Most of the production of Bt corn (which represents 40% of the total corn production in Québec) is grown on the South shore of the Saint-Laurence, along its main affluents the Chateauguay, the Richelieu and the Yamaska rivers.
"The scientists observed that the sediments drawn/taken from the Saint Laurence [at the mouth of the Richelieu river] contained concentrations of the Bt-toxin that were 5 times higher than in drainage waters and sediments near agricultural land, specified Jean-Francois Narbonne. Such an accumulation in the Saint Laurence leads to the belief that "the roots of the Bt-corn plants transfer the gene sequence to other soil bacteria that then also secrete the Bt insecticide," explained the professor. "Or maybe the characteristics of the sediment from the Saint Laurence is better at retaining the coding sequence."
He added that earthworms are harmed by this pollution, because this Québec study showed that this beneficial organism is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of the Bt insecticide.
These results add tarnish to the heraldry of Bt corn whose reputation has already been hurt by the results of a study that showed the variety of corn poisoned not only the corn borer but also monarch butterflies.
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