Friday, September 02, 2011
'Superbugs' evolve to defeat natural insecticide in Monsanto's genetically modified corn
A recent discovery of western corn rootworms in Midwest corn fields raises concerns that the use of biotech crops could lead to "superbugs," reports Scott Kilman of The Wall Street Journal. Aaron Gassmann, an Iowa State University entomologist, discovered that rootworms in four northeast Iowa fields had "evolved to resist the natural pesticide made by Monsanto's corn plant." While Gassmann believes these to be isolated cases, the concern is that some farmers may to switch to insect-proof seeds sold by Monsanto competitors and use harsher synthetic insecticides. The long-term effects are unknown.
The findings have biotechnology rivals scrambling to find the next generation of insect protection for crops. Pest concerns are at an all time high following reports of superweeds immune to Monsanto's Roundup in 40 states. Add Gassmann's discovery to that and it further muddles the debate about genetically modified crops' impact on farming practices. (Read more)