HONEYBEES AND GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CANOLA OIL
By Claire Gilbert, Ph.D.
Copyright June 1997, Blazing Tattles
HALF MOON BAY, California, June 1997 - We do not realize how
dependent we are on pollinating insects. Without them, there would
be little or no grain, beans, nuts, fruits, and other food crops.
The insects fertilize plants in one way or another so they may bear
fruit and seeds. Scientists at a meeting in France shared their
research results on the effects of some genetically engineered
plants on honeybees. Honeybees are depended upon to pollinate many
crops and their hives are actually carried about and placed
strategically at pollination time.
"A paper presented by Minh-Ha Pham-Delegue of INRA (the French
equivalent of USDA), on 1/9/97, described results concerning the
relationship of honey bees and transgenic colza (genetically
engineered canola). The development of transgenic varieties
through genetic manipulation has provided some new properties to
plants. These include production of protease inhibitors (PI) which
confer resistance to fungi and insects. The overall strategy in
this technology is to develop plants that require less insecticide
in use. In transgenic plants, however, chemicals produced by genes
designed to inhibit insect feeding or prevent fungal growth may
also affect pollinating insects in two ways, according to the
"1. Direct effect on colonies from proteins in nectar and
"2. Indirect effect on foraging behavior by modification of
nectar, pollen or other volatile substances.
"The results of the studies reported by the author indicate
significant differences in quantity of nectar found in various
transgenic varieties . . . Comparing volatile emissions between
transgenic colza and control plants also indicates that genetic
transformation can modify existent plant odors." (APIS, Vol. 15,
No. 4, Copyright M.T. Sanford, IFAS/University of Florida)
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