The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Oct. 16 that it had reauthorized commercial planting of genetically modified corn varieties transformed with genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt corn, as it's known, makes toxic Cry proteins lethal to caterpillars of the European corn borer and other damaging insects.1 The proteins are harmless to humans. As a result of EPA's action, seed companies can now market the products for another seven years, depending on compliance with requirements set forth in the re-registration document.2 The agency provisionally approved Bt cotton in late September.

EPA reached its decision after a year-long review of the crops. According to spokesperson David Deegan, the agency relied in part on advice from scientists asked to examine the matter. The scientific advisory panel, or SAP, reviewed risks and benefits of Bt corn, first planted in 1996. Says Stephen L. Johnson, assistant administrator of EPA's...

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