Friday, December 30, 2011

U.S. Beetle is developing resistance to one of the most widely used genetically modified crops, say scientists

Crop pests appear to have developed resistance to an insect toxin inserted into GM corn plants.

As a result, these ‘superbugs’ are surviving efforts by farmers to kill them and so are damaging food crops on farms in the U.S.

The revelation is a blow to supporters of the technology and raises questions over whether the regime that approves and polices genetically modified crops is sufficiently rigorous.

The corn plants at the centre of the controversy have had a toxic bacteria normally found in soil – Bacillus thuringiensis – inserted into them.

The idea is that when corn rootworm bugs try to eat the plants they become ill and die before causing serious damage.

The GM crop, which is called Bt corn, was hailed as the answer to farmers’ prayers when it was introduced in America in 2003.

The crop, created by U.S. giant Monsanto, would allow growers to bring in bountiful harvests using fewer chemical pesticides.

The hybrid crop and similar varieties now account for 65 per cent of all U.S. corn production.

But over the last few summers, it has become clear that ‘superbug’ versions of the rootworms have been able to feast on the Bt corn plants in parts of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska without significant ill effects.

The details were revealed in a memo from the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency. It said: ‘Resistance is suspected in at least some portions of four states in which “unexpected damage” reports originated.’ Read More