[Coral-List] Bacillus thuringiensis - BBT Bees and Butterflies Threatened??

Thomas Goreau goreau at bestweb.net
Wed Aug 29 13:10:52 EDT 2007

Dear Tom,

I could be wrong, but my guess is that bees and butterflies would be  
affected only if they are directly exposed, that is, plant munching  
caterpillars would be affected, but after they are metamorphosed they  
would only if they are sipping nectar from the flowers of the plant,  
and bees if they are nectar or pollen collecting from it, unless the  
spray cloud drifts over them. I am also not sure that bioaccumulation  
is a problem like it is with DDT. DDT is a toxic chemical that is  
concentrated in lipids up the food chain, but Bt acts through  
producing a specific inhibitor to the ion transport enzyme that  
maintains cell membrane integrity in most invertebrates. But if a  
bird ate a dead caterpillar it would not be affected, or fish ate a  
dead dragonfly larva. I don't know that there are Bt resistant  
insects. This seems to be difficult to evolve because the target  
enzyme is so widespread in invertebrates and seems to be conservative  
and highly selected, and so essential to survival that any loss or  
change is lethal, as well as the wide range of toxin strains  
involved: See:


Resistance to Bt toxin surprisingly absent from pests - Nature ...
"If I'd gotten up seven years ago and said that there would be no  
evidence of increased Bt resistance after Bt crops were planted on 62  
million hectares ...
www.nature.com/nbt/journal/ v21/n9/full/nbt0903-958b.html - Similar  

But what seems glaringly clear is that the terrestrial use has been  
approved without serious consideration of the impact on marine and  
aquatic organisms other than fish, and that there are reasons to  
suspect serious environmental problems that urgently need to be  
studied because of the huge area of treated crops, such as palm oil  
or bananas or sugar cane, in deforested habitat that drains into  
mangroves and coral reefs. Plant residues wash into streams and drive  
detrital food chains, and moreover the sprayed bacteria wash into  
surface and ground waters and can enter the marine habitat via  
aerosols, soils, dust, and water.

Best wishes,

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
Global Coral Reef Alliance
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
goreau at bestweb.net

On Aug 29, 2007, at 12:52 PM, Tom Williams wrote:

> I hate to derived things but I lived during the other
> broad spectrum insecticide - maybe the same things and
> we could identified it as BBt rather than Bt.
> Foodchain and bioaccumulation issues may arise and how
> about resistant invertebrates.  It seems we have been
> here before.  We are still picking up levels of DDT in
> harbor sediments and inverts 30 years after.
> Maybe we should question our associates with the bees
> and butterflies as to whther they have any evidence -
> I would assume they would have recognized it and have
> lots more money and clot to get something done.
> Tom Williams
> --- Thomas Goreau <goreau at bestweb.net> wrote:
>> Thanks to all of you for your comments on Bt.
>> Gene is right, it is sprayed against Mosquitoes on a
>> large scale.
>> Alina is right it is sold all over the world as a
>> "specific" and
>> "safe" control for all sorts of insect pests.
>> Indeed it has become the centerpiece of the "new"
>> "green"
>> "environmentally responsible" integrated pest
>> management (IPM)
>> worldwide on grounds that no vertebrates are harmed,
>> and seemingly
>> that alone. This is pure vertebrate chauvinism!
>> However there is nothing specific about it's action,
>> it seems to kill
>> practically all invertebrates indiscriminately, the
>> good along with
>> the bad, the essential recyclers and pollinators
>> along with the
>> pests, and as we now seem to be seeing the marine
>> along with the
>> terrestrial.
>> Will Davis' points are also well taken. There are
>> many strains, and I
>> don't know if these have been shown to be more
>> specific, but I
>> suspect all are very broad-spectrum killers.
>>   I think the key is that until we found it in dying
>> marine sponges
>> and looked at the literature, there seemed to be
>> very little studies
>> on the impacts on marine invertebrates, although
>> soil snails and
>> nematodes were killed, and as I recall, dragonfly
>> larvae and other
>> aquatic insects.
>> What is clearly needed is to see if Bt is in waters
>> draining oil palm
>> plantations and other places where it is used, and
>> specific tests of
>> its effects against aquatic and marine invertebrates
>> be carried out.
>> We also found Pseudomonas in dying sponges almost
>> identical to those
>> used in oil palm plantations against fungal rust
>> diseases. We don't
>> know how specific this is, so the question is
>> whether fungi that are
>> essential in soil and aquatic mineral and nutrient
>> cycling are also
>> being affected.
>> As far as the Pfisteria goes, this a very
>> controversial topic, on
>> which Alina's husband is an expert, and I am sure
>> she will add to that.
>> Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
>> President
>> Global Coral Reef Alliance
>> 37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
>> 617-864-4226
>> goreau at bestweb.net
>> http://www.globalcoral.org
>>> Message: 1
>>> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 10:09:13 -0400
>>> From: Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
>>> Subject: [Coral-List] Pal Oil plantation and
>> Bacillus thurigiensis in
>>> 	sponges
>>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> Message-ID:
>> <a06230966c2f9d91a0e39@[]>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ;
>> format="flowed"
>>> Tom, The pathogen, Bacillus thuringiensis,  you
>> identified in dead
>>> sponges was  cultured and identified in African
>> dust reaching the
>>> Caribbean in 2003. It is used to control
>> mosquitoes in north Africa.
>>> Gene
>>> Atmospheric microbiology in the northern Caribbean
>> during African
>>> dust events, Aerobiologia 19: 143-157.
>>> -- 
>>> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
>>> ------------------------------------
>>> -----------------------------------
>>> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
>>> University of South Florida
>>> Marine Science Center (room 204)
>>> 140 Seventh Avenue South
>>> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
>>> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
>>> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
>>> -----------------------------------
>>> ------------------------------
>>> Message: 2
>>> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 14:44:12 -0400
>>> From: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu>
>>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Pal Oil plantation and
>> Bacillus thurigiensis
>>> 	in	sponges
>>> To: "Gene Shinn" <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>,
>>> 	<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>> Message-ID:
> <4E15FCC7981F7A4CA5AA0DEF4B2141C90F8DA9FF at UNCWMAILVS2.dcs.uncw.edu>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="us-ascii"
>>> It's also used to control caterpillars and worms
>> on terrestrial
>>> plants.
>>> I think you can by it at Home Depot.  It's
>> commonly used by organic
>>> gardeners instead of pesticides on plants like
>> cannas, ginger,
>>> hibiscus
>>> etc.  It is considered to be a specific pathogen
>> for those kids of
>>> bugs.
> *******************************************************************
>>> Dr. Alina M. Szmant
>>> Coral Reef Research Group
>>> UNCW-Center for Marine Science
>>> 5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
>>> Wilmington NC 28409
>>> Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
>>> Cell:  (910)200-3913
>>> email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
>>> Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta
>>> Message: 3
>>> Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 22:54:27 -0700
>>> From: Jeremy Kerr <Jeremy_Kerr at csumb.edu>
>>> Subject: [Coral-List] Mystery Event - Lankayan
>> Island, Sulu Sea,
>>> 	Sandkan
>>> To: coral-list at aoml.noaa.gov
>>> Message-ID:
> <fc.000f7aeb0e90755c000f7aeb0e90755c.e907925 at csumb.edu>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
>>> According to "Environmental Politics and Policy"
>> by Walter A.
>>> Rosenbaum, the microbe Pfiestreia piscicida caused
>> a "sudden,
>>> dramatic increase in fish kills between 1991 and
>> 1993 within North
>>> Carolina's vast estuaries."  Along with large
>> numbers of
>>> dead fish, there was a strong smell that burned
>> the eyes and nose,
>>> but it was not that of dead fish.  The cause of
>> the deaths was
>>> intially assumed due to anoxic water.  However,
>> research found high
>>> levels of nitrogen and phosophorus caused a
>>> population explosion in P piscicida.  The microbe
>> population
>>> infected the fish, which lead to the die-off.  A
>> quick web search
>>> shows this was not an isolated incident.  After
>> reading the
>>> discussion on Coral List regarding the Lankayan
>> Island
>>> incident, I think a microbe is the most likely
>> suspect in this "who-
>>> done-it."
>>> Jeremy
>>> -------------------
>>> Message: 6
>>> Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 8:41:53 -0500
>>> From: Will Davis <willp2 at tds.net>
>>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Bti and the fact sheet
>>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> Message-ID:
>> <20070829084153.9BLAB.264515.root at webfep13>
> === message truncated ===

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