Monsanto GM Corn in Peril: Beetle develops Bt-resistance

By Rady Ananda
Food Freedom

Nature herself may be the best opponent of genetically modified crops and pesticides.  Not only plants, but insects are also developing resistance.  The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to Monsanto’s Bt-corn, and entire crops are being lost. [Image]

Farmers from several Midwest states began reporting root damage to corn that was specifically engineered with a toxin to kill the rootworm.  Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann recently confirmed that the beetle, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, has developed resistance to the Bt protein, Cry3Bb1.

Bacillus thuringiensis – Bt – is a bacterium that kills insects.  Different proteins are engineered into cotton as well as corn plants.

Two-thirds of all US corn is genetically modified per the USDA, and the bulk of that is Bt-corn. Monsanto has the biggest market share in the US, reporting about 35% in 2009.

In response to the July 2011 study, Monsanto said only the “YieldGard® VT Triple and Genuity® VT Triple PRO™ corn products” are affected.

“It appears he has demonstrated a difference in survival in the lab, but it is too early to tell whether there are implications for growers in the field.”

However, Kansas State researchers summarized the study, indicating that the specimens tested came from fields suffering severe rootworm damage and compared them to those from unaffected fields.  In other words, it was a field study.

Resistance developed where the same Bt corn had been grown at least three years in a row.  Gassmann found “a significant positive correlation between the number of years Cry3Bb1 maize had been grown in a field and the survival of rootworm populations on Cry3Bb1 maize in bioassays.”

Ag Professional’s Colleen Scherer explains that “the Cry3Bb1 toxin is the major one deployed against rootworms. There is no ‘putting the genie back in the bottle,’ and resistance in these areas is a problem that won’t go away.”

Monsanto urges farmers to try their “stacked” GM products where more than one trait is engineered and to employ integrated pest management (IPM) techniques.

Kind of like getting on a treadmill of ever increasing DNA manipulation and chemicals to maintain monocultures, instead of reverting to time-honored mixed farms that use companion plants (including weeds) for pest control. IPM does not have to include toxic chemicals or genetic manipulation for success.  (See, e.g., Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture).

This year, Monsanto launched a “triple-stack” sweet corn which it envisions being sold at Farmers Markets.  The FDA’s GMO label ban will certainly help, since most people who buy local are specifically trying to avoid genetically engineered foods.

In line with Monsanto’s goal to enter farmers markets, the Union of Concerned Scientists just came out with a report urging federal financial support in order to create jobs. The report notes that the number of farmers markets has doubled in the past ten years.

But, as we watch the feds target natural producers with raids and product seizure, while leaving Cargill’s 36 million pounds of tainted turkey alone until someone died, we can expect that any federal money put toward farmers markets will be used to support only that produce which is genetically modified, chemically doused and/or irradiated.

Click here to follow Iowa State’s work on the rootworm, and see the following pieces for more reasons to avoid herbicides and biotech foods:

Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark? Earth Open Source, June 2011

Herbicide-tolerance and GM crops Greenpeace, June 2011

Per USDA, Herbicide Use Increases with GE Crops, Beyond Pesticides, June 2011

More problems with glyphosate: Rice growers sound alarm, Food Freedom, May 2011

Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup, Food Freedom, Feb 2011 

Monsanto’s superweeds come home to roost: 11 million US acres infested, Generation Green, Oct. 2010

GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible? Superweeds and birth defects: A review of scientific evidence on genetically modified soy and the herbicide glyphosate, Sept. 2010

Three Approved GMOs Linked to Organ Damage, Food Freedom, Jan. 2010


Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and runs the sites, Food Freedom and COTO Report.

Related: Inspection finds of dreaded Khapra beetle increase 20-fold this year

43 responses to “Monsanto GM Corn in Peril: Beetle develops Bt-resistance

  1. Diatomaceous Earth will kill these pests, from what i’ve read… and do bunches more… good for humans, pets, plants… bad for pests. I just found out about this amazing and natural thing that’s been around forever… check this out and pass the word to everyone you know… time is short…

    • There are just south of 100,000,000 acres of corn in tne USA. Wanda, are you volinteering to shlep diatomaceous Earth over and over and spread it on all 100,000,000 acres of corn? Furthermore are you also going to nab and hold these insect pests and hold their heads under a pile of diatomaceous Earth untill the insect expires? Furthermore diatomaceous Earth is produced by strip mining. Did you know that?

  2. yeah… what we don’t know boggles the imagination.

  3. Thing is, the powers that be know about this stuff… how much more does the round-up crap cost? People better snap out of it.

  4. Oh, wow, a Bt-resistant Beetle? That’s one nasty a$$ beetle.

  5. Lets see we have millions against Monsanto, Organic Farmers against Monsanto, we are against Monsanto, mothers against Monsanto, now Mother Nature is against Monsanto using bugs and weeds. Now lets see who would be stupid enough to be for Monsanto FDA, USDA, HHS, EPA and Farm and Food Industry.

    There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation (Monsanto).
    W. C. Fields

    Doc Blake

  6. My garden was CREAMED by these critters this year. Cucs, squashes of all varieties, even beans were demolished! I’ve not grown sweet corn more than once in the last 5 years either so they aren’t propagating on my place! And DE repels them, it does not kill them. And it is extremely hard to apply. You must reapply after rain, wind, etc.

    • what’s DE?

      we grew sweet corn in january — and that was absolutely the most delicious and freshest corn I have ever eaten. they recommend, tho, not to replant for at least 3 years.

      now I am amazed to learn, kristin, that other veggies are affected by the rootworm.

      we let the corn patch go back to flowers (don’t know what they are and it’s storming out so I can’t grab one to key it out). these flowers have a massive runner system so there was no effort involved. beautiful purple flowers; plants get about 3 feet tall — the butterflies love them.

      btw, we pulled the corn stalks and laid them out in the sun to dry them; and eventually use them in our halloween decorations. A few days later I picked up a stack and was massively attacked by carpenter ants that bit me.

      the “bite” marks were tiny slices — but I just looked them up and learned that they can also spray formic acid, which may be why it hurt much

      • Sorry, Rady. “DE” is Diatomaceous Earth. Corn Root Worm adults are Cucumber Beetles. These are the small, oblong yellow with black spotted or striped insects that you find on your plants and hanging out inside the flowers of cucumbers, melons, and squash. They even went after my Cherokee Trail of Tears pole beans!!

        The implications here are huge…..much bigger than just corn.

  7. Monsanto=corporate communism

  8. FYI, the Andrew Gassman source link is broken… but meanwhile, here’s a really interesting website showing several studies that were presented about this topic back in March… notice the “Monsanto” email address on the one…

  9. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Monsanto GM Corn in Peril: Beetle develops Bt-resistance | Food Freedom

  10. Glad to find your site Rady, and thanks for posting this… interesting. I just subscribed to your news feed so I hope to read more from you.

    I always try to find the original source of articles so I can respond directly to the author – unfortunately articles like yours get cross-posted so much (e.g. to that people end up posting comments on all these news aggregation sites thinking that THEY are the people to thank for breaking news like this. I suppose it help get their ad-clicks up but I feel it also weakens the “truth movement” by drawing people away from those who actually create original content. The posting at activistpost lists you as a contributing writer there, so I suppose you’ve given your full blessing for them to use your article. How does that work for you – do they pay you a license/donation for the priviledge?

    I just wondered what your thoughts were on this practice in general? I know some authors (e.g. Justin Raimondo at expressly forbid people to reproduce his articles though people still do it. His reasoning is simply that he needs the money to keep on doing the fine work that he does – instead of having millions of readers donating to all these news aggregation sites with no real content of their own he’s much prefer getting the credit he’s due.

    Sorry for riding in off-topic on my hobby horse. Original content is king and it just seems to me that too many people are making money out of other people’s hard work these days and we end up watering the weeds more than the flowers.

    • it’s a worthy topic for discussion, but I’m about to head out of town for the wknd.

      I’ll chew on it.

      there are pros and cons to cross posting at several sites

  11. I have been shouting about this issue of immunity build up for years. Now we see the latest stage of the problem.
    As was mentioned in the article, Monsanto suggest using their latest and greatest Genetic Genie to kill the bugs. I said this would happen years ago as they continually try to invent their way out of trouble as each modification finally succumbs to evolutionary processes. In fact it was their intention to justify their continued existence. By suggesting that we now need them to resolve these immunity issues they stand to make their perpetual profits from their own screw ups. Its a pity no-one thought about this potential trap before. First contaminate the environment then volunteer (at a price) to solve the problems. With each solution only a short term respite is produced (wouldn’t want to put oneself out of business now would they?) and eventually the immunity issue rears its head once more and away they go again with their inventive solutions (at a price you understand).
    Plants and bugs evolve and they do so at a much faster rate than mammals and us mere humans can do. Our evolutionary ability is simply acheived through invention. We are actually devolution in action. Think about it. We are further from the real grass roots survival lifestyle our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors. In fact if the brown sticky stuff hit the fan 100% of the developed worlds human race would perish within the first 6 months. That’s right folks. 6 months and there would be no Western world humans left. Its because we would either all die of starvation or bump each other off or succumb to diseases caused by the dead bodies and dying humans, or the biowarfare materials that the lowlife government officials would release by way of a final act of defiance would get us. Strangely enough the human edifices of structural creativity would all crumble within one generation and then whatever is encased in one of these secret laboratories would be released to the world anyway. No-one would or could survive that. Think it won’t happen? Don’t raise your hopes. It will and they already have plans for all the worst case scenarios possible.
    Meanwhile back at the Monsanto laboratory they are cock-a-hoop about the latest development. Its profit all the way boys and girls. In fact they couldn’t have wished for better. As for Permaculture? I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately people don’t do variety anymore. Mono culture or nothing. What do you think the people would do with half the food types possible? Cook them? Eat them raw? Most people don’t even know where 90% of their food actually comes from.

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  17. stacked toxins … great.
    Aren’t they finding that the bt is causing animals that eat it to have spontaneous abortions?

    this playing God, is definitely going to help “them” reach their depopulation targets.

    but I am sure is just another coincidence.


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