Are GMOs harmful for bees and butterflies?

Before a genetically modified crop can be grown commercially, it must be shown that they are not harmful to “non-target” insects, such as bees and butterflies. This is part of the rigorous health and safety testing, which includes a mandatory environmental risk assessment performed by the European Food Safety Authority.

The bee population can be impacted by many factors, like pests and parasites or microbial disease. There is today a scientific consensus that GM plants are not harmful to bees. In fact, according to data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the world’s bee population has been rising almost continuously for the past 50 years.

Regarding monarch butterflies, there are claims that they have been harmed by eating pollen from GM corn. While it is true that the monarch butterfly is in bad shape, scientists point to a number of factors which are contributing to the decline of the monarch population, including habitat destruction, climate change and a reduction in the number of milkweed plants (which provide food to butterflies). There is however scientific consensus that there is no significant risk to monarch butterflies from GMOs.

Learn more by watching EFSA’s video on Environmental Risk Assessment.