Friday, April 22, 2016

Gypsy moth treatments and the GMO myth

Karla Salp
Pest Program outreach coordinator 

Recent online articles are claiming that our gypsy moth program is using a genetically modified bacteria (GMO bacteria) in our gypsy moth treatments.

For the record: there are no GMO’s in the product we are using for gypsy moth treatments.

It is also not a Monsanto product. The product, Foray 48B, is made by Valent Biosciences and is approved by the USDA’s National Organics Program (NOP) for use in organic agriculture up to and including the day of harvest. The NOP requires natural sources for all ingredients so the product cannot include GMO ingredients.
If you eat organic produce, you have likely consumed Btk, the active ingredient in Foray 48B.

Btk is a naturally occurring soil bacteria that is toxic only to caterpillars. It is not toxic to humans, pets, birds, fish, or bees. It has been used safely for decades. It is available to purchase in most garden centers and many organic gardeners use it in their gardens as well.

It is because of its safety for non-target organisms that we selected this product. We have included multiple links on our website about Btk and human health. You can learn more here on our Btk and human health webpage.

We are extremely confident in the safety of this product. In fact, our own staff stand outside beneath the path of the aircraft in the treatment areas as observers. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has also reviewed the ingredients of Foray 48B and have said it does not pose a public health risk.

Some people may still decide to minimize their exposure to the treatments. For those who wish to do so, the Department of Health suggests that staying inside for 30 minutes after treatment is sufficient to limit your exposure.

Treatment areas

But first see if you are even in or near a treatment area. We have maps available online, including a searchable map that will tell you if you are in, near, or outside the treatment areas. If you are in or near the treatment areas, you can sign up to be notified before treatments occur vie e-mail, robocall or text messages.

It is understandable that people would have questions or concerns when a pesticide is being applied in their neighborhoods. That shouldn’t include worrying about misinformation being spread online.

If you have questions or want more information, visit or call our hotline at 1-800-443-6684.