- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

The Environmental Protection Agency sided with good science and reason this week a welcome change for the often politicized agency by announcing that so-called "biotech," or Bt corn, is not a threat to either the environment, or the people who ultimately consume it. "Bt corn has been evaluated thoroughly by the EPA, and we are confident that it does not pose risks to human health, or to the environment," announced EPA Assistant Administrator Steve Johnson of the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. EPA's findings echo recent studies conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that concerns about Bt corn raised by those opposed to so-called "Frankenfoods" reflect irrational fears and, more to the point, remote risks. EPA's endorsement of Bt is good news all around.

The benefits of Bt corn are substantial. Larger crop yields are first and foremost as less corn will be eaten by insects and thus more corn will be available to feed human beings. This is very important given the food shortages and starvation that continue to plague large portions of the world.

But a secondary and equally important benefit is that Bt corn does not need sprayed-on chemical pesticides pesticides that are often quite harmful, even potentially carcinogenic. Even if they are fairly harmless to humans provided the plants and veggies are thoroughly cleaned before consumption these chemical pesticides still get into the ecosystem, leaching into groundwater and contaminating rivers. Pesticide run-off is a major problem one that Bt corn and similarly modified plant crops might substantially ameliorate.

EPA deserves kudos for not giving in to the irrational fear-mongering of activist groups, almost all of them on the fringes of the political left, who seem bent on thwarting scientific advancement even if it means less abundant food crops for an increasingly crowded world, and more toxic effluents being poured into our environment.

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