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GM Corn Creates Superpest

“Instead of making things easier, we’ve just made corn rootworm management harder and a heck of a lot more expensive.” says Bruce Potter, University of Minnesota professor and pest management specialist.

Corn rootworm is called the billion-dollar pest, a rough estimate of how much money U.S. farmers spend annually to keep it at bay.

The best weapon they’ve ever had was a genetically modified corn plant bred to contain a protein that kills the insect. But many bug experts are convinced that rootworms have developed a resistance to the protein, so that they can feast on the plant’s roots and survive.

On top of a punishing drought, the leading corn pest is adding to crop damage in parts of Minnesota and elsewhere – even though the plants are supposed to be immune from the bug, the corn rootworm beetle.

Now that corn rootworms have growing resistance to genetically modified corn, the list of pests that are resistant to genetically modified crops has grown significantly in terms of real-world crop management.

It adds significantly to the argument that genetically modifying crops for pest resistance does not protect crops in the long-term. In fact, it creates the conditions for even stronger pests to be bred in the wild, for even greater crop damage in the future.

Minnesota Public Radio; August 3, 2012


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