Researchers in Illinois, one of the country’s larger corn-growing states, are finding that Monsanto’s ongoing struggle with pesticide-resistant insects may be far worse than originally thought.
According to a recent article from Reuters, genetically modified corn (or GMO as in genetically modified organism) in Illinois is being ravaged by corn rootworms, many of which have become resistant to the lab-created “pest-resistant” corn that is supposed to protect the crops.
The researchers gathered evidence from fields in two Illinois counties and found that pest problems are only mounting with the corn despite additional efforts to fight against them such as crop rotations.
The report was issued by Michael Gray, a professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois. It states that farmers across a “wide swath of Illinois” could face formidable challenges in protecting their corn crops from the rootworms as well, as many others have across the country. It was released on August 27.
This particular damage was found in fields where GMO corn was planted following soybeans as part of a crop rotation practice that usually works to help stop the rootworms, which often lay their eggs in cornfields but not in fields where soybeans are grown.
Last year, EPA academic corn experts warned against the long-term prospects of GMO corn because of the increasing resistance of rootworms to the crops’ defenses, which are supposed to eliminate the need for more insecticide use.
According to the article, similar problems have been found in Iowa but not to the level of what is being seen in Illinois just yet.
Rodney Williamson, director of research and development with the Iowa Corn Growers Association said that farmers want to keep using GMO corn because it reduces pesticide use.
However, researchers have said that many farmers experience less chemical use upon early implementation of the GMOs and then find that they end up using far more once pests start to take over.
Altogether, GMO crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use by 404 million pounds from their introduction in1996 through 2011, according to a report by research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University Charles Benbrook.
There have also been serious problems with herbicide resistant “superweeds” popping up in soybean fields, as the below segment from ABC News shows.
Stopping the pest problem has been a major focus of Monsanto and other biotech companies, but time seems to be running out as Mother Nature continues to fight back and outsmart the highly controversial crops.