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GMO corn is failing; pesticides only exacerbate the problem, scientists say


GMO corn

(NaturalNews) The chickens are coming home to roost for American farmers who adopted the chemical agriculture model. Reports indicate that genetically modified (GM) Bt corn, which is currently grown on millions of U.S. acres, is no longer working. And farmers who grow the crop are having to throw everything in the chemical arsenal at it just to produce workable yields.

This includes applying all sorts of insecticides to soil, something that the chemical industry promised during the early days of GM technologies would not be necessary. But because pests are now growing resistant to the Bt insecticide produced inside GM corn kernels, farmers are desperate to find a solution, which in the case of crop chemicals is actually making the situation worse.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, soil insecticide use dropped initially by some 90 percent through 2010 as a result of Bt corn being introduced. But in the past several years, the emergence of resistant superbugs -- in this case, resistant western corn rootworms -- has created a massive problem for which there does not seem to be a workable solution.

"Farmers say they need to do whatever it takes now to control the western corn rootworm, the most damaging U.S. corn pest," wrote Jack Kaskey. "Although Monsanto Co. designed its corn to kill the worms, resistant bugs have been found in four states and growers say pesticides are needed again to protect their crops."

In other words, all those promises made by Monsanto and other chemical companies about GM crops requiring less or no chemical applications were false. And now farmers who adopted the proprietary technology are suffering with no workable options other than to continue increasing the chemical load, or abandon GM crops altogether.

"It's pretty clear where the science and the scientific community is on this point," stated Michael Gray, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, to Businessweek. Gray published a paper earlier this year in the Journal of Applied Entomology which found that long-term pesticide use on Bt corn crops is useless and will only exacerbate the situation. "It really does not add much."

Monsanto lobbied EPA against refuges that would have helped deter resistant pests

Chemical companies disagree, of course, as they are reaping huge profits from the situation thanks to increased chemical sales. But in terms of long-term viability and sustainability, throwing more chemicals at the problem is a ticking time bomb that will have disastrous consequences if a permanent solution is not discovered.

"Entomologists... warn that the additional insecticide may exacerbate the resistance problem that farmers fear," added Kaskey. "That's because pairing pesticides with engineered corn exposes insects to extra toxins, delaying maturity. That leads to increased mating between resistant worms, hastening the evolution of rootworms that aren't vulnerable to GMO corn."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in fact, issued a warning back in March that taking the insecticide route is a bad idea. The agency wrote that combining soil insecticides with Bt hybrid corn "should not be done," and that using chemicals as a type of insurance policy to protect crops "will only increase insect resistance."

Farmers themselves are largely responsible for the emergence of resistant rootworms. Many of them failed to set up non-Bt corn refuges to deter resistant pests, resulting in a literal breeding ground for the critters to take over. The EPA has been complicit in this as well, as the agency failed to require these refuges, instead setting up voluntary guidelines that many farmers simply ignored.

"Resistance was caused because the farmers did not plant the required refuges and the companies did not enforce the planting of refuges," stated Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields to WIRED.

For more information and breaking news on transgenic crops, visit GMOs.NaturalNews.com.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.businessweek.com

http://www.wired.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

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