There are few pests in the United States as destructive as the corn rootworm. The economic damage of the insects on corn crops used to ring in at around $1 billion a year. In 2003, behemoth biotech firm Monsanto stepped in with YieldGard, a corn variety engineered to produce insecticidal toxins to fight the pests, which has been an effective deterrent.
Until now, that is. A new report by researchers from the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University shows that western corn rootworms on two Illinois farms have developed resistance to Cry3Bb1, the insecticide produced by YieldGard.
Resistant rootworms could wreak further havoc on farms that have already endured the hottest, driest summer the U.S. Midwest has suffered in more than seven decades. Corn prices are at a record high despite U.S. farmers planting the largest corn acreage since 1937, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The EPA is planning a comprehensive review, and may ban sales of YieldGuard seed in affected counties as part of a remedial action plan if resistance is confirmed.
Read the whole study here: Field-Evolved Resistance to Bt Maize by Western Corn Rootworm.
Via New Scientist