Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

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Annie Hughes
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Biology Assistant Professor Participates in Important Agriculture Science Discovery

CHICAGO, October 15, 2007 – A university study funded by the National Science Foundation recently revealed that genetically modified corn, otherwise known as Bt corn, can be harmful to the aquatic ecosystem.

For more than 2 years, an experienced team of researchers, including Loyola University Chicago’s Emma Rosie-Marshall, assistant professor of biology and natural science, studied the effects of the genetically modified Bt corn on aquatic ecosystems. The study focused closely on the effects of Bt corn byproducts, such as the pollen and crop debris left behind after harvest. Using field measurements, the group was able to prove that these transgenic byproduct materials (pollen, leaves, cobs, etc.) frequently enter streams in the agricultural Midwest.

Through further laboratory studies, the group found that these corn byproducts are often consumed by aquatic insects, which can reduce their growth and increase their mortality rates. These aquatic insects include stream caddisflies, moth-like insects, which are a food source for larger organisms like fish and amphibians. Knowing this fact, it’s clear that the transgenic toxin in Bt corn can affect species outside the targeted group (moths and butterflies).

“Overall, our study points out the potential for unintended and unexpected consequences from the widespread planting of transgenic crops in the Midwest,” said Rosie-Marshall. “The exact extent to which aquatic ecosystems are, or will be, impacted is still unknown and likely will depend on a variety of factors, such as current ecological condition, agricultural practices, and climate/weather patterns. This will continue to be an important area for future studies”

Other researchers included in this study, titled “Toxins in Transgenic Crop Byproducts May Affect Headwater Stream Ecosystems,” include Todd V. Royer of Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Jennifer Tank of the University of Notre Dame, and Matt Whiles of Southern Illinois University. The study has been published by Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, and is available on the journal’s Web site at www.pnas.org.

About Loyola University Chicago
Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes nearly 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, continuing and professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities,” and named the University a “best value” in its 2008 rankings. For more information, please visit our Web site at LUC.edu.




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