February 19, 2012
February 14, 2012
Monsanto Co. and other seedmakers reported a threefold increase last year in U.S. farmers caught violating rules intended to stop insects from developing resistance to genetically modified corn.
The rules affect farmers planting seeds modified to produce a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide. The Environmental Protection Agency requires those growers to also plant an adjacent area — a so-called refuge — of non-Bt corn so that bugs feed on both types of corn and don’t become immune to the toxin.
Seed companies are concerned that bugs’ resistance to modified crops may be increasing. In July, Iowa State University found that some rootworms have evolved resistance to the Bt gene engineered into Monsanto corn. Entomologists in Illinois and other Midwestern states are studying possible resistance in fields where the insects devour roots of Monsanto’s Bt corn.