Genetically modified corn seed was supposed to be resistant to the dreaded rootworm. But in parts of the U.S. Midwest, corn farmers are discovering the very problem that GM crops were supposed to eliminate are back in the corn and raising questions about the future of GM farming.
A decade ago, corn farmers thought they had rootworms beat. Companies such as Monsanto
and others rolled out genetically modified cornseed, known as BT. It contains a toxin that kills the rootworms as they fed. But apparently, the rootworms have done a lot of evolving in the past ten years.
In recent months, there have been more cases of resistant rootworms ... in Indiana, Illinois and across the U.S. Midwest. And now insecticide sales are surging, as farmers look for ways to protect their investments with tools that GM corn seeds were supposed to make obsolete. Joseph Spencer - Corn entomologist, Illinois Natural History Survey
Corn growers' associations in Canada say they haven't seen any signs of GM-resistant rootworms here. But they're watching closely.
And some observers say that when it comes to corn production in the U.S. midwest, we now have the worst of both worlds ... with GM seeds that aren't effective and no longer offer the economic or environmental benefits that come with cutting the need for insecticide use. Jay Feldman - Executive Director, Beyond Pesticides
We also spoke to Jay Feldman is the Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides
, a not-for-profit group that advocates moving away from the use of pesticides in farming. Jay Feldman was in Washington, D.C.We requested an interview with a spokesperson from Monsanto, the company that developed the BT corn seed. No one returned our calls.
This segment was produced by The Current's
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