Date: 02 Mar 2012

A Review of the Food Safety of Bt Crops

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Abstract

There is a 50-year history of safe use and consumption of agricultural food crops sprayed with commercial Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) microbial pesticides and a 14 year history of safe consumption of food and feed derived from Bt crops. This review summarizes the published literature addressing the safety of Cry insect control proteins found in both Bt microbial pesticides and those introduced into Bt agricultural crops. A discussion on the species-specific mode of action of Cry proteins to control target insect pests is presented. This information provides the scientific basis for the absence of toxicity of Cry proteins towards non-target organisms that has been confirmed in numerous mammalian toxicology studies. A human dietary exposure assessment for Cry proteins has also been provided which includes information that food processing of Bt crops such as maize leads to loss of functionally active Cry proteins in processed food products. Lastly the food and feed safety benefits of Bt crops are briefly summarized including lower insecticide use and reduction in fumonisin mycotoxin contamination of grain.