Friday, February 10, 2012

GM corn violations triple

Gene-modified corn violations triple among U.S. farmers
By Jack Kaskey
February 09, 2012

Updates with entomologist’s comment in 11th paragraph.

Monsanto Co. and other seed makers reported a threefold increase last year in U.S. farmers caught violating requirements for planting genetically modified corn.

The data relates to farmers planting seeds that are genetically modified to produce a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide. The Environmental Protection Agency requires the growers to plant an adjacent area — a so-called refuge — of non-Bt corn so that bugs don’t become immune.

About 41 percent of 3,053 farmers inspected in 2011 failed to fully comply with the refuge requirement, according to data from the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, which Monsanto provided today in an e-mail.

Seed companies are trying to get farmers to plant refuges amid concern that an increasing number of bugs may be developing resistance to modified crops. In July, Iowa State University found some rootworms have evolved resistance to Cry3Bb1, a Bt gene engineered into Monsanto corn. Entomologists in Illinois and other Midwestern states are studying possible resistance in fields where rootworms devour Monsanto’s Bt corn.

An increase in the proportion of farmers found not planting refuges was expected because of a new industry initiative that uses sales data, the National Corn Growers Association said today in a statement on its website. Seed companies used their data to identify farmers who may not have purchased enough seed for a refuge, said Nick Storer, global science policy leader for Dow Chemical Co. and the company’s representative on the ABSTC.

[Read More…]

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