Rootworms can damage even “fancy corn”

This report from Clay Masters for Harvest Public Media focuses on genetically engineered corn and concerns some farmers are raising. The story opens with a farmer whose corn crop last year failed due to root damage, even though it was “fancy corn” engineered to be resistant to perpetrating pest.

Researchers are running tests on a variety of seeds from different companies, but seed from ag giant Monsanto seed is the one that has shown the lack of resistance to rootworm.

That’s probably partly because, [Iowa State entomology professor Aaron] Gassmann says, Monsanto’s seed has been on the market the longest. In 2003, it was the first Bt seed available commercially. Since then, Bt seeds have become such an intricate part of corn farming that it’s hard to find corn seeds that don’t have some kind of Bt technology.

“In many the ways I think the data provide an early warning that people need to be more careful about how these products are used and they need to be used in a more integrated way – in other words, with a variety of tactics,” Gassman said. “Farmers shouldn’t just be relying on this same tactic year after year to control the pest.”

For the full audio and text report, head here.

Photo by Xiaozhuli, via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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