Rootworm could be resistant to genetically modified crops

By Mark Steil,
Minnesota Public Radio

An insect that can fatally weaken the root system of corn crops is overcoming the main line of defense that farmers have against the pest, posing a threat to Minnesota’s nearly $5 billion corn crop.

Western rootworm beetles climb on a corn stalk. (Photo courtesy Kenneth Ostlie/University of Minnesota)

The corn rootworm is developing resistance to genetically modified corn, which contains a protein that normally is deadly to the pest. Researchers at Iowa State University have documented what they say is the first known example of rootworms able to survive the toxin.

By killing the insect, genetically modified corn saves farmers the extra step and cost of spraying insecticide on their fields. Farmers like it so much that an estimated three quarters of the nation’s corn crop is genetically modified.

But if the corn rootworm can eat the corn and survive, it will cost farmers money. As the name implies, the pest loves to feed on the roots of the plant, said Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann, the lead researcher on the school’s research.

“The rootworm makes it very difficult for the corn to remain standing straight in the face of winds that are associated with storms, for example,” Gassmann said.

Farmers in northeast Iowa first alerted university researchers in 2009 that they were seeing rootworm damage in genetically modified corn fields where the pest should have been killed. The farmers suspected that the rootworms had developed immunity to the protein implanted in the corn.

Read more at Minnesota Public Radio

Ed. Note: An even better idea is not to plant GM corn at all.

Related: Don Huber on Food Chain Radio: What will the Monsanto Bug do to us? Saturday, Aug. 20, 9 AM Pacific.

5 responses to “Rootworm could be resistant to genetically modified crops

  1. We take the study findings seriously, and we’re working with Dr. Gassmann and his colleagues on additional research. Our statement can be found here:

    • thanks, I’m passing this on to another media outlet who “may” cover the issue more in depth — (correction — I’m trying to convince them to take it on)

  2. BT now found in human and unborn babies blood. Who gives a flying crap what you take seriously.. You make things worse in the long run. sudden soybean death.. resistant water hemp., ragweed, loss of soil nutrients thru chelation of RR sprayed crops… you just make lazy farmers and your GE tools only last a short period time. Hope you enjoy spending your whole life intellectually trying to FIX things you break. but of course… its all just $ for the economy!

    We have been ripped from our life context, culturally. We have been divorced for sooo long from biophysical nature & awareness that our view of the world & ourselves is little more than institutionalized hallucination. Images such as human supremacy over all things animate & inanimate.. an obese GNP is the model of social health & high technology is the holy grail..

    It is a hallucination to think that there can be a completely planned, organized, ordered, understandable, and manageable universe. J.A. Livingston

  3. A better idea would definitely be to not plant GM corn…

    And, of course, they never tell us there is a natural way to control bugs. I just found out about diatomaceous earth yesterday. Its great for humans and animals taken internally, controls bugs naturally, organically, when used on gardens and plants, dust it on skin and it controls lice, fleas… here’s a link…

    pretty exciting stuff…

  4. It is important to slow down and think about food as nourishment rather than just something to gulp down in between meetings or on the way to pick up the kids. Rather than worry about following a fad diet, think about your health and your lifestyle instead. Start by learning which foods are good for you.

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