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Nature fights back as pesticide resistant bugs devour GM Monsanto corn with a vengeance
by Tony Isaacs
(The Best Years in Life) Corn which has been genetically engineered by Monsanto to kill western corn rootworm is reportedly being devoured by those pests with a vengeance. Thanks to the heavy reliance on the genetically modified crops, the tiny rootworm pest has overtaken fields, outsmarting the genetic engineering that was supposed to keep it away. According to recent reports, pesticide-resistant rootworms are showing up weeks earlier and more voraciously than ever.
Mike Gray, a professor of entomology with the University of Illinois reported: “We're still early in the growing season, and the adults are about a month ahead of schedule,” explained Gray. “I was surprised to see them – and there were a lot.”
Reports of increasing rootworm damage began coming in last after Iowa State University researcher, Aaron Gassmann, published a study saying that the rootworms were becoming resistant to the product, creating so-called “superbugs” in Iowa fields.
In a research paper published in the July/August/September 2012 issue of the journal Gm Crops & Food, scientists reported that samples taken in 2010 indicated that rootworm populations had an eleven-fold survival rate on Cry3Bb1 maize than did control populations. The paper noted that resistant corn rootworm populations were first identified in 2009 and that survival on Cry3Bb1 maize at that time that was three times higher than populations not associated with such injury.
But farmers in six states last year reported damage from rootworm to Bt corn – a sign that the product, which was grown on 37 million acres in 2011, could be losing its efficacy.
Last year, farmers in several states found that the western corn rootworm – a major crop pest that has the potential to seriously reduce yields – was surviving after ingesting an insecticidal toxin produced by the corn plants. The corn, launched in 2003, is engineered to produce a protein, known as Cry3Bb1, derived from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. The rootworms ingest the roots of the corn, known as “Bt corn,” and the protein is fatal.
With high demand and high prices for corn, many farmers are planting the crop year after year and on more acres, ramping up the possibility that resistance could develop. Federal regulators require a 20 percent “refuge” of non-Bt corn near Bt acres, but many growers have ignored that and oversight has been lax.
Typically, corn farmers have had to rotate corn crops to minimize pest pressures. But with Bt corn, many simply planted “corn on corn,” year after year. In the meantime, researchers say they are bracing for a potentially difficult year.
“It's very early in the season and the damage was quite severe,” Gray said. “I think a lot of people, including producers, the agricultural business community, Monsanto, and my colleagues at other land grant universities, we're really going to be watching this. To be honest, we don't know what's ahead of us.”
The new "superbug" rootworms may lead to serious financial woes for both farmers and the rest of us, according to a letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 22 prominent scientists and corn-management experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and universities across the Midwestern Corn Belt. Patrick Porter, PhD, associate professor at Texas A&M, who drafted the letter, noted that farmers are paying almost twice as much for seeds that don't live up to their promises, and are then havingo resort to insecticides on top of that.
The potential result, according to Porter, is crop failure which could raise food prices at the grocery store. reported Porter, "It's a societal risk. If farmers start taking damage to any pest, that will lower yields. That will reduce the supply of corn and increase prices." Porter also noted that when prices for corn go up, more farmers start planting corn, despite the risks. "When the price of one crop goes up," said Porter, "growers shift to growing more of that crop, so they grow less of something else, which makes price of that go up. So it's a ripple effect."
About the author
Tony Isaacs is a natural health advocate and researcher and the author of books and articles about natural health including Cancer's Natural Enemy. Mr. Isaacs articles are featured at Natural News, the Health Science Institute's Healthiertalk website, CureZone, the Crusador online, AlignLife, the Cancer Tutor, the American Chronicle and several other venues. Mr. Isaacs also has The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. In addition, he hosts the Yahoo Oleandersoup Health group of over 2800 members and the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - Featuring Luella May forum. Mr. Isaacs and his partner Luella May host The Best Years in Life Radio Show every Wednesday evening on BlogTalk Radio.
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