Scientists Warn Of Monsanto Corn Rootworm Resistance

A group of US plant scientists have sent a letter warning federal regulators that action is needed to mitigate a growing problem with biotech corn that is losing its resistance to plant-damaging pests.

The stakes are high – US corn production is critical for food, animal feed and ethanol production, and farmers have increasingly been relying on corn that has been genetically modified to be toxic to corn rootworm pests.

“This is not something that is a surprise… but it is something that needs to be addressed,” said Joseph Spencer, a corn entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, part of the University of Illinois.

Spencer is one of 22 academic corn experts who sent the letter dated March 5 to the US EPA telling regulators they are worried about long-term corn production prospects because of the failure of the genetic modifications in corn aimed at protection from rootworm.

Monsanto introduced its corn rootworm protected products, which contain a protein referred to as “Cry3Bb1,” in 2003 and they have proved popular with farmers in key growing areas around the country. Biotech corn sales are a key growth driver of sales at Monsanto.

The corn rootworm product is supposed to reduce the need to put insecticides into the soil, essentially making the corn plants toxic to the worms that try to feed on their roots.

But plant scientists have recently found evidence that the genetic modification is losing its effectiveness, making the plants vulnerable to rootworm damage and potentially significant production losses.

The scientists said in their letter to EPA that the situation should be acted upon “carefully, but with a sense of some urgency.”

As concerns have mounted over the last year that Monsanto’s rootworm-protected products were losing their effectiveness, Monsanto has said the problem is small and has said the products continue to provide U.S. corn farmers with “strong protection against this damaging pest.”

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, has recommended growers rotate the corn with its biotech soybeans, use another of its biotech corn products and use insecticides to try to address the problem.

“Rootworm performance inquiries in 2011 were isolated to less than 0.2 per cent of the acres planted with Monsanto rootworm-traited corn hybrids,” said Danielle Stuart, a Monsanto spokeswoman. “In all of these cases, Monsanto is working very closely with the farmer and has provided best management practices for the upcoming season on each of these fields. ”

The problems with insect resistance have been reported in parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Continuing to plant a failing technology only increases the resistance development risk, the scientists said in their letter. Moreover, they say, the rootworm-protected BT corn is being planted in areas that have no need for it, often because there are few alternative seed options. Scarcity of non-BT corn seed is a concern, they said.

Using insecticides along with the biotech corn as Monsanto has advised is not a good approach, according to the scientists, because it elevates production costs for farmers and masks the extent and severity of the building insect resistance.

“Recommendations to apply insecticides to protect transgenic Bt corn rootworm corn strikes us as a clear admission that the Cry3Bb1 toxin is no longer providing control adequate to protect yield,” the scientists wrote.

“When insecticides overlay transgenic technology, the economic and environmental advantages of rootworm-protected corn quickly disappear,” the scientists wrote.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic Analysis Technology
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Advances New Microbial Solutions For Agriculture
January 5, 2017
The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto’s and Novozymes’ collaboration to improve crop harvests through products containing naturally-occurring microbes, has announced results from Read More
Seedling Closeup
Seed/BiotechExceed The Seed Symposium Lauded For Engaging Speakers, New Seed Technology Insight
December 21, 2016
The 2016 Exceed the Seed Symposium offered attendees exclusive knowledge of developing trends in seed treatment and novel technologies to Read More
Soybeans closeup
Seed/BiotechUnderstanding Inoculation Techniques For Legumes
December 20, 2016
Inoculum is not magic dust — it contains bacteria that must be kept alive. According to Penn State Extension, all packages Read More
Trending Articles
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Latest News
Eric SfiligojNo Alternative Facts: Dicamba Cropping System Applicato…
January 23, 2017
During President Donald Trump’s inauguration, much fuss was made over the use of the term “alternative facts” vs. some of Read More
Young Corn Plants
ManagementTimac Agro USA Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
January 20, 2017
Timac Agro USA, an agriculture supply company specializing in high-efficiency plant and animal nutrition products, has acquired St. Louis,MI-based A&E Ag, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsNufarm Teams Up With John Deere Financial
January 19, 2017
Nufarm and John Deere Financial have teamed up to help farmers grow a better tomorrow. This program helps make purchases Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationTrump Formally Picks Perdue As Agriculture Secretary
January 19, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Sonny Perdue as his choice for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, selecting a former Read More
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More